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Helping new talent grow: supporting young garden designers at the RHS shows

The RHS flower shows provide a wonderful platform for fresh gardening talent – and this year, we’ve had the opportunity to support not one but two young designers making their RHS show debut.
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Helping new talent grow: supporting young garden designers at the RHS shows
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Helping new talent grow: supporting young garden designers at the RHS shows

We all love a beautiful garden. A well-designed garden is a delight to the senses, giving pleasure through views, scents, sounds, textures, and yes, even a quick taste here and there, if you grow edibles! And the skill of good garden design is subtle, combining artistic flair with a sound knowledge of both plants and materials.

Garden design might seem a glamorous career. The excitement of Press Day at RHS Chelsea, for example, sees garden designers enjoying the attentions of media and celebrities alike, with appearances on TV, press and radio.

But Press Day, of course, is only one aspect of the job. Like most areas of the horticultural and landscaping trades, garden design involves early starts, long hours, nail-biting deadlines and the added pressures of coping with increasingly unreliable weather patterns.

Horticulture, at the entry level, is seeing a perturbing lack of young people starting out on this career path, and many organisations across the garden industry – including us! - are looking at how to increase its appeal to young talent.

So what better way to do this than by supporting young garden designers? The RHS flower shows provide a wonderful platform for fresh gardening talent – and this year, we’ve had the opportunity to support not one but two young designers making their RHS show debut.

Kristian Reay at RHS Chatsworth

At the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show in June, we worked with young designer Kristian Reay. In its second year this year, RHS Chatsworth featured a new Long Border competition, inspired by the famous long borders at great gardens including Great Dixter and Hever Castle. The competition gave young designers a length of border approximately seven by two metres, in which to present a mixed border planting scheme, this year themed around ‘Movement’.

Graduate landscape architect Kristian designed a scheme entitled ‘Summer Breeze’, which he described as ‘a celebration of the elusive British summer’. The only problem was, with a team of volunteers kindly helping out with the build of the border, Kristian needed some tools to kit them out. Well, we were happy to help! A variety of our tools was used to create the border in just a few days, with our mid handled trowel and mid handled fork proving especially useful. The additional reach afforded by the longer handle makes these tools ideal for working in borders and raised beds.

With ornamental grasses swaying in the breeze, punctuated by perennials in a warm palette evocative of long summer evenings, Kristian’s ‘Summer Breeze’ border certainly captured the mood. It captured the RHS judges’ eye, too, and Kristian came home to Bath with a silver medal. See more of Kristian’s border on Instagram or on the RHS website, or visit his website at


Eds Higgins at RHS Tatton

This month we’ve been working with another young designer at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show. The Young Designer competition is a feature of RHS Tatton, putting the work of five talented young people in the spotlight. This year, the young designers were briefed to create a garden highlighting the benefits that plants and gardening have on health and wellbeing.

Nottingham-based Eds has a passion for finding a home for nature, even in the most urban of environments. He is especially interested in how nature reclaims ‘waste’ sites, and how useful and uplifting these spaces can be when transformed into community spaces. Eds’ Tatton garden ‘Finding [urban] Nature’ focused on a particular brownfield site Eds knows, once a delight of summer flowers, now an asphalt-covered car park, and imagined how different it could be as a community space and refuge for nature. The planting in the garden features brownfield flowers – an important food source for many urban pollinators – intermingled with domestic garden plants.

Again, a selection of our tools was used to create the garden, and some of them also decorated the ‘allotment’ area, where a colourful mix of vegetables, herbs and flowers grows in raised beds. Eds’ colourful and thought-provoking garden was rewarded with a silver medal from the RHS judges. After the show, the tools will be donated to a community group, to enable more people to enjoy green spaces in their lives. Follow Eds’ exploration of the natural world around us on Instagram, or find out more about the garden on the RHS website.

Congratulations to both these talented young designers on their RHS silver medals. Both Kristian and Eds have created outstanding and original designs, and we look forward to watching their careers in garden design go from strength to strength. Watch this space!

An upcycled pallet makes a handy tool rack in Eds' community garden


Visitors enjoy Kristian's 'Summer Breeze' border

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