As the curtain falls on the 2010 Chelsea Flower Show the attention of the horticultural world turns once again to the Alternative Garden Show Awards, known affectionately as the Aggies, awarded to amateur garden designers. While there is no set limit to the money that may be spent, the style of the show is a far cry from the high budget gardens of Chelsea.
This year the show was held for the first time in the tiny French département of Ariège, at the foot of the Pyrenean mountains, a region whose slow pace of living and acceptance of the more natural pleasures of life is perfectly in tune with the show’s ethos.
The full list of awards has yet to be published, but the awards and particularly the judges’ comments give a flavour of this year’s designs.
THE HERB CIRCLE GARDEN
Designer: Gilly Ginevre
Client: Herbals ‘R Us
Award: Silver Gilt medal
To produce an interesting garden from a limited group of plants, even a group as broad as herbs, is always a challenge and this talented designer has achieved a high standard. The judges were particularly impressed by the central circle with it’s mass planting of chives, nepeta and golden oregano.
THE KITCHEN TERRACE GARDEN
Designer: Gilly Jambon
Client: Barn Conversions plc
Award: Silver medal
While much of the planting in this pleasing garden followed a mauve and yellow theme, the failure to maintain the theme throughout compromised the coherence of the garden. The judges appreciated the tendency in the early years of a garden to use the plants one has in order to reduce costs, but felt that a real opportunity had been lost here to produce a garden of true merit. When the hedges surrounding this terrace garden reach maturity and fully enclose the garden the space within will clearly be one of great charm and restfulness.
THE CREAM GARDEN
Designer: Gilly I.N. Trouble
Client: (Name Withheld)
The client brief for this garden was for a contemplative space in the style of a maghrébin courtyard, using only cream-coloured flowers. The designer has failed to meet this brief and therefore could not be awarded a medal. A box hedge in a geometric pattern does not constitute an Arab courtyard, nor do a few straggly cream eschscholtzia californica fulfill the colour requirement. In the judge’s opinion the designer has failed so spectacularly to achieve the style requested as to constitute a blatant disregard for the show’s rules. She is therefore banned from entering the competition for a period of five years (please note that the Flavio Briatore gambit will not work here).
THE COUNTRYSIDE BEYOND GARDEN
Designer: Mother Nature
Award: Gold medal and Best In Show
The judges were unanimous in awarding Best In Show to this exceptional example of a natural landscape. The designer’s use of the indiginous lime and hazel trees in the foreground to enclose the view over pasture land and barns to the sparcely planted hillside beyond shows a true understanding of nature and beauty. Mother Nature’s vast experience and her eye for detail and simplicity shines out in this exemplary design.
The judges and organisers would like to thank all the designers and gardeners for their hard work and enthusiasm in making the show once again such a huge success. See you again in 2011.