Worcestershire’s young gardeners have received glowing praise from the very top of the tree.
Bob Sweet, who is head of judges at the Royal Horticultural Society, said entries in the school garden section of Malvern Spring Gardening Show were the best he has ever seen anywhere in the UK.
A total of 15 schools and colleges from across the Midlands – 10 of them from Worcestershire – built gardens based on a book title for the event, on the Three Counties showground, and RHS judges handed out 11 highly commended awards.
“When I came to watch the students putting the finishing touches to their exhibits the place was absolutely buzzing,” said Mr Sweet.
“This has to be the best and most enthusiastic group of kids I have met anywhere. If they keep their skill and enthusiasm the future of gardening in this country will be in good hands.”
The best in show award went to the entry from Pershore College, which was a combined effort by pupils of Pershore High School, The Vale of Evesham School and Regency High School, Worcester, who attend the college twice a week for horticultural studies.
Twelve students aged 14 to 16, under the guidance of tutors Paul Bearcroft and Phil Oakley, built a garden to illustrate Frank Baum’s fantasy novel The Wizard of Oz, complete with a Yellow Brick Road, Emerald City and a garden structure designed to replicate a Kansas tornado. Unfortunately, this innovative and revolving piece of kit had to be disconnected on Thursday, the event’s opening day, because strong winds were threatening to lift the device up and deposit it the other side of the nearby Malvern Hills.
Individual entries from Regency High School and Vale of Evesham School also received highly commended awards, along with those from Tudor Grange Academy, Stanley Road Primary and Pitmaston Primary in Worcester, Meadows First School and Sidemoor First School, both from Bromsgrove, and St Egwins CE Middle School, Evesham. The garden designed by students of Parkside Middle School, Bromsgrove, was given a commended award.
Among all the floribunda, the show’s sculptor-in-residence Caro Sweet, from Malvern, was busy creating a model which will eventually be turned into a bronze tribute to television’s celebrity gardeners.
“We are affectionately calling him ‘Saint Percy’,” said Ms Sweet. “And he will represent the spirit of all the TV gardeners from Monty Don and Chris Beardshaw right back to Percy Thrower, who was the first presenter of the show Gardeners’ World and would have been 100 this year.” Using a special wax-based clay around a frame of metal rods, pipes and wire, she built up the model during the show.
The project will be completed at Ms Sweet’s studio at Bransford and nine bronzes and 25 acrylic bronzes will go on sale later this year. In the floral art classes, the show’s best use of colour award went to Sandra Snell from Much Marcle, near Ledbury, while there was a gold for Bromyard Flower Club with its exhibit on a ‘fashion house’ theme, which represented the Three Counties and South Wales area in the section for the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies.