Revisiting The M&G Garden

It’s been one whole week since the RHS Chelsea Flower Show opened its doors to the press, and what a week it’s been. A bustling show ground, multiple medal celebrations, and even a proposal on one of the show gardens made this year’s event one of the most memorable yet.

And without a doubt, one of the highlights for the Pro Landscaper team was Andy Sturgeon picking up Best in Show and his eighth Gold medal for The M&G Garden. One of our features writers, Rachael, was even spotted in the crowd by the BBC watching Andy receive the award.

So, what made the garden a cut above the rest? RHS judge James Alexander-Sinclair referred to the garden as “perfection”. He added that the garden “delighted designers, thrilled landscapers and perked up the plants people to no end.”

It’s hard to argue with this grand endorsement. Around 10,000 different plants were grown for the garden, including rare species such as Polemonium caeruleum ‘Jacob’s ladder’. The largest tree – a Carpinus betulus – weighed over six tonnes, boasting five trunks.

The ten striking burnt timber sculptures which dominated the garden were created from 15t of sustainably sourced oak by Sussex based sculptor Johnny Woodford. They took six months to sculpt and were blackened through a Japanese-style technique which hardens and protects the wood.

“It’s rare to get the opportunity to work on this scale, and the creative freedom Andy gave me to interpret his vision was one of the most exciting aspects of it,” says Johnny.

From what Andy tells us, it’s having creative freedom which helps to create the winning formula for show gardens. “None of the gardens which have won Best in Show for probably the past 15 years have had a brief from their sponsors. The designers have been able to do their own thing, and that’s really important.”

Before the medals were announced, Andy said he would probably take a short break from Chelsea. “It’s time consuming and it impacts every bit of your life – your diet, your mental health, your sleep patterns. It’s not a lifestyle.”

Will winning his third Best in Show prize change his mind? We’ll have to wait and see.

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