The RHS has just announced Cornwall-based gardener Freddie Strickland as the 2021 Young Designer at their Tatton Park Flower Show. The Young Designer award is THE coveted prize for those looking to start their careers in garden design. His garden, ‘On Tropic’, celebrates the sub-tropical gardens found in Cornwall and reimagines this type of planting in a domestic suburban context, considering these species may soon become commonplace due to our rapidly warming climate.
Tatton’s theme this year was ‘Summer of Love’ and was one of the first major events to be held in the North West of England this year and we’re delighted to announce that adversity (in both pandemic and unexpected heatwave forms) failed entirely to dampen the occasion for 2021.
Tatton is always a very community focused show each year and the ongoing crisis failed to limit the organisers reach into the outlying community as they performed valiantly making the show feel as personal and unique as ever.
Special mention to the Community Boarders – 3m x 3m squares designed to be viewed from all sides – which gave visitors some great ideas as to what they could achieve in their own gardens.
The famous Floral Marquees and Plant Village featured over 90 of the UK’s top growers and nurseries and despite the ongoing restrictions, the show appeared as open and popular as ever – a blessed pocket of business as usual while still taking care to look after its guests.
Young Designer winner Freddie Strickland’s garden, ‘On Tropic’, features a hardy exotics plantings mix with tender species and reclaimed materials in a lush garden. Special mention to the combinations of leafy tetrapanax and neon-yellow catalpas. Vibrant orange dahlias, lillies and Hemerocallis offer pops of colour in the sea of blue and white agapanthus for that topical palette.
Bamboos Fargesia ‘Black Pearl’ also contrast with other larger-leaved plants to create a energising, yet tranquil experience for show goers. Head of RHS Judging, James Alexander Sinclair, noted, “Freddie Strickland’s garden was a breath of fresh air and showed an innovative use of planting, showing us what can be possible in a changing world.”
Indeed, the British weather once again continued to surprise and amaze, though this year rather than wreaking familiar havoc with impromptu downpours, it baked the build-up process in 30+ heat, requiring extra and extensive pre-show watering to keep the gardens looking gorgeous. Through careful planning (and a great deal of effort) we’re pleased to report that the gardens looked as fabulous as intended.
Of the five finalists – all under thirty – themes leant towards wildlife, sustainability and issues of mental health.
West Sussex locale Max Parker-Smith was awarded Silver Gilt for his design, ‘Earth Garden,’ kept deliberately minimal to allow for wildlife to roam free.
James Smith, from Northamptonshire, focused his design on representing the barriers men face in coping with mental health issues in his garden design ‘It’s Ok Not To Be Ok’, for which he received a Silver Medal.
Ellie Edkins’ The Dreamscape Garden sought to free visitors from daytime worries with planting including salvias, sedums, and echinacea. Moon-like heads of umbels Ammi majus and wild carrot Daucus carota provide a night time vibe, suspended above a flowing matrix of grasses including Stipa tenuissima for a dreamlike quality.
And Emile Bausager’s garden – Shooting Star Children’s Hospices Research Garden – featured a calming but Brutalist-inspired courtyard with a circular, meandering route and copper-clad water features that bring natural sound to the garden. It represents a bold re-imagining how a city driveway could look if we were prepared to ditch our dependency on the private car.
Alongside the Young Designer Competition awards, 12 other medals were awarded in the Gardens categories. Robert Hardy’s ‘The MacMillan Legacy Garden’ won Best Tatton Garden and Best Back to Back Garden was awarded to Leon Davis with his ‘United Utilities Garden of Resilience.’ In the Floral Marquee, Best Exhibit went to Holden Clough for their display of hardy plants.
In total, this year’s horticultural exhibits were thus far awarded 22 Gold, 10 Silver-Gilts, 11 Silver, and 2 Bronze Medals. The winners of the Best Community Border, Best Exhibit in the Plant Hub, and Best Plant Village Exhibit will also be announced shortly; visit rhs.org.uk/press/shows for the latest awards lists.
RHS Tatton Park runs until Sunday 25 July. For more information or to buy tickets, visit rhs.org.uk/tatton
All in all a fabulous show with – so far – some fabulous weather too.
Congratulations to all the medal winners from Gardens Illustrated! Full list to follow.