Published: 03 September 2013
Three Tatton Designers
The Gardening Times has been following three designers shortlisted in the RHS National Young Designers of the Year 2013.
The culmination of the competition was at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show. Florian Degroise, Tony Woods and Christopher James drew on all of their skills to create their own gardens following the designs they had submitted to the design judges back in 2012. Now it was the turn of the show garden judges to take a close look and decide the outcome.
All three gardens were very different to look at and all three were executed to professionally high standards. At the end of the day however there could only be one winner of the highly desirable RHS gold medal.
I spoke to each of the designers as they were putting the final touches to the gardens immediately prior to the RHS judges arriving to make their judgments.

Florian Degroise

Florian Degroise designed his “The Bees Garden” as a place to highlight nature, sustainability and recycling. This he achieved to great effect with much of the planting attractive to wildlife all year round and also requiring minimum watering and maintenance.

All of the hardscape features were created using reused materials, including all of the timber. Florian commented “There is no glue or mastic, everything is held together with screws so it can be dismantled and reused after the how.”

Up the wooden gardening path
Florian by his fire pit surround by wildlife friendly plants
The use of only a few different materials throughout the build certainly added to the restful feeling when sitting in the finished garden. A clever detail was the rich red horizontal line painted around end timber fence, this picked out the colour in the planting scheme and helped join the garden together visually. With the bright flower colours, the sound of insects and the smell of wood burning in the fire pit this would be a great place to spend many an evening. 

Tony Woods

Tony Woods looks over his creation
Tony Woods garden called “Escape to the City” contained a huge amount of interest within what appeared to be such a small space. The clever use of stone, timber and metal features within a diverse range of plants was impressive. This garden would look good in a confined town space as there was so much to see and do, that the surroundings would not detract from it.

What appears to have been a complicated design was executed to give a great effect. The attention to detail was outstanding; from the section of dry stone wall to the timber screen and the varied planting areas the build-up team worked hard to complete this within the short period available.
Tony commented “Many of the materials are recycled; the cobbles are from Preston, scaffolding from Manchester and the steel from Macclesfield.” He added that “We were lucky with the weather, the site was dry and stayed clean but we needed shade netting for many of the plants during the build up” 
The vertical steel screen and metal water troughs added visual strength while the timber screen and birch trees divided the garden to give the desired level of privacy.

A full view of the garden


Christopher James

Chris surrounded by rich planting and the sound of bees.
Christopher James created his “GreEnCo Sense” garden with a spectacular glass wall built in situ from eight thousand green glass wine bottles. This feature formed the back wall and provided an amazing back drop for the massed planting in front.
Chris commented “The bottle wall is a modern interpretation of an old cob wall, we used old bottles and laid them down and fixed each layer with expanding foam to hold them together, there are also internal supports. The important part is the sloping roof to keep it all dry, just like on a cob wall”
The steel pergola upright supports had ingenious details fixed onto them in the form of crimped copper sheeting salvaged from old hot water tanks. The colour and texture removed the harshness of the industrial steel sections.  
This garden had some great design features, not only the tremendous steel pergola covering most of it but also the vivid pink steps and specimen trees that extended out from the boundary line giving the impression the garden carried on into the show ground.  The dense planting fulfilled the design brief regarding attracting wildlife - all day long the local bees were taking advantage of this temporary food source. 

The massed planting in front of the bottle wall

The Awards

With the judging completed and at the end of a long, hot press day there was a short award ceremony for the three designers. RHS Director General, Sue Biggs commented that “This is a great competition for young people to find a way into horticulture as a career” After presenting the three finalists with their awards she thanked Laurent-Perrier for sponsoring the finals and providing each designer with a bottle of their fine Champaign.

And the final results were....

Tony Woods wins the Gold award!
To contact Tony visit:
Christopher James with his Silver award. To contact Chris visit:
Florian Degroise with his silver award. To contact Florian visit:

The three finalists and Sue Biggs, Director General of the RHS who presented the awards.

Congratulations to Tony, Chris and Florian, we wish them well in their future careers.
Reported by Chris Allen  

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