Published: 17 July 2015
Gold Medal Border
Nicola Oakey was delighted at winning a gold medal for her first display at a major show
Homebase Garden Academy student, Nicola Oakey, was delighted to win a gold medal at her first RHS Show garden at this year’s BBC Gardener’s World Live at the NEC, Birmingham

Nicola with Homebase colleague Justin Browne with the gold medal in front of her winning border

Nicola, who started the Academy in September 2014, successfully submitted a design for the ‘Beautiful Borders’ category of the show. The design had to be inspired by the ‘Industrial Heritage of the West Midlands’, so Nicola took this opportunity to celebrate the amazing pottery industry that has flourished in the area, notably Spode and Wedgewood. 

The border was just 3x3m in size and was packed full of exciting planting and many pottery-inspired features. An eye-catching focal point were three Salix that had been woven into bold living columns. Their shape being reminiscent of the chimneys of bottle-oven kilns, which would have dominated the industrial skyline.
Nicola’s planting scheme is simple and elegant with hints of an English cottage garden. Her border contained bold drifts of herbaceous planting interspersed with a lush carpet of creeping ground cover all with a blue and white colour scheme; timeless colours associated with well-known potteries in the area.

Nicola also made the three stepping-stones that crossed the border, made out of broken blue and white ceramics, the stepping stones acted as a poignant reminder of the factories where men, women and children tirelessly worked.
“Designing and building a Beautiful Border is a great way to learn about what it takes to build a show garden, without being overwhelmed by the size of the space,” said Nicola. “The Garden Academy team was lucky enough to be helping Adam Frost build his RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden this year; an invaluable experience, which really helped me during Gardener’s World Live.”

Homebase’s Garden Academy scheme is now in its second year and is growing from strength to strength. It offers young people the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of horticulture and receive all the relevant training and support they need to pursue a career in it. The students spend a year working full time in their local Homebase Garden Centre and have monthly training from Chelsea gold medallist Adam Frost. Students also visit a wide variety of horticultural suppliers and study toward an RHS Level 1 Award qualification.

Adam Frost seen being interviewed on the Homebase garden at Chelsea this year said: “What an amazing achievement, Nicola should be proud that her design was selected to be displayed at BBC Gardener's World Live, I have no doubt this is the first of many accolades she will go on to achieve.”   
 Nicola commented “The Garden Academy visits Barnsdale Gardens every month to receive RHS training. It is really inspiring to spend so much time there and really fitting that it is where Geoff Hamilton filmed Gardener’s World.”  
See more about Nicola’s gold winning border at :
Reported by Chris Allen  

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