Cleve West makes it two in a row at Chelsea

by Rose Crompton

The winning Brewin Dolphin Garden designed by Cleve West

For the second year running, Cleve West has clinched the coveted Best in Show award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

West’s formal, symmetrical garden, which contrasts beech hedging and yew topiary with looser herbaceous planting, is full of intriguing details such as flame-shaped stone finials.

The focal point of the garden though is a striking stone well head.

“I’m particularly fond of the well head and it’s something I wasn’t sure about at first,” says West. “We were originally going to cut it up into paving, but when we stood it up in the field of the guy that owned the stone, I saw the power and the beauty it had. You’re never sure though if anyone else will see the same thing.”

The risk had clearly paid off though when at 7.30 this morning, West received his award.

“Winning Best in Show again is a bit weird actually, and very surreal. I didn’t expect it and I thought that our hedge might let us down because it has only just come into bloom as the weather has warmed up,” he said.

There was tough competition for the award this year, with nine of the 16 show gardens winning gold, including those designed by former Best in Show winners Arne Maynard and Andy Sturgeon.

Diarmuid Gavin’s towering Westland Magical Garden, which attracted large queues yesterday, won most creative show garden, an accolade that is only awarded at the judges’ discretion and achieved a Silver-Gilt Flora medal.

Other Silver-Gilt winners included The Caravan Club garden and Royal Bank of Canada’s Blue Water garden. Designer Nigel Dunnett said he had expected the result. “Unfortunately it didn’t come together quite as we wanted due to the weather,” admitted Dunnett.

In the artisan category, Kazuyuki Ishihara’s Satoyama Life won Best Garden.

It took a year to design and create the garden, which aims to capture the beauty of the landscape between the mountains and the lowlands in Japan, some of which was lost forever in the earthquakes that hit the country last year. “I’m very happy,” the designer said.

Tony Smith’s Green with . . . won Best Garden in the Fresh category which aims to encourage innovative design.

The garden is an intriguing installation of perspex rods and cylinders which mixes living plants with artificial grass. “It feels good to win. It’s what you come for, but don’t always achieve, so I’m definitely over the moon, at least until the next show!” Smith said.

Smith said it was hard for him to sum up what inspired him to produce the piece. “I have a real problem explaining my inspiration and where it comes from. It’s a collection of ideas and thoughts taken from several spontaneous things which meant it took about three seconds for the picture to form in my head. What actually takes the time and effort is making that real, and turning it into the physical. Somewhere in there is the idea of the central emotions of envy and desire being trapped within,” he said.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show is sold out, visit for more information.



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