A gold medal at Chelsea

Posted: Thursday 24 May 2012
by Andy Sturgeon

I was in my hotel room doing some ironing, when my sponsor rang to break the news that the M&G Garden had won gold.

Chelsea 2012 garden of Andy Sturgeon

Gold! When the medals are awarded, the BBC makes a habit of pouncing on designers, and sticking a camera in their faces, to capture tears of joy or disappointment. I’ve never had an ambition to cry on national television, so I was in my hotel room doing some ironing, when my sponsor rang to break the news that the M&G Garden had won gold at Chelsea.

It’s been a long journey, and the first emotion you feel, is relief. It’s like finally passing the finishing line at the end of a marathon. And I always shed a tear.
The planting was a struggle, because so many of the plants were small, or just didn’t flower. But the end result was as good as I could possibly have hoped for. A lot of plants didn’t make the final cut, but the pared down palette was actually a bonus. Without planning it I ended up with quite a few native plants, including cow parsley, geums and aquilegias, which have really helped create a wild perennial border.
Everyone has noticed the increase in naturalistic perennial planting at the show. On press day, the actor John Hurt, was standing in front of one of the neighbouring gardens, and was heard to say, "I spend my whole time trying to stop my garden from looking like this".
The unexpected stars are Paeonia ‘Claire de Lune,’ and Trollius ‘Cheddar’. The round buds of both echo perfectly the holes in the stone walls that were inspired by the repeated patterns of William Morris wallpaper. And they reflect the shapes of the sculpture perfectly.
We were lucky that planting week was cool and dry, but now this scorching weather is drying everything out rapidly. We aren’t meant to water during the day but we have to, as everything is shrivelling.

It’s interesting to see how the garden has grown so much in just a few days. The pink Hesperis was partially in bud when we planted it, and now it’s in full flower. So too is Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Alba’. Both have also grown taller, making the garden more colourful, and not quite as flat as it was at the beginning of the week.

So, that's it for another year. I've had an amazing time, designing and building the M&G Garden, and show week has been as thrilling as ever. I hope you've enjoyed reading about my progress.

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Talkback: A gold medal at Chelsea
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kaycurtis 25/05/2012 at 21:56

would like to congratulate Andy on gold, great stuff.

happymarion 26/05/2012 at 15:06

Well done, Andy. So glad the old faithfuls did well for you. Naturalistic planting is the spirit of the age, When I had my Open Garden I overheard a visitor say "All gardens should be like this". If only more roundabouts and parks would do the same. Our pollinators need it; our food supply needs it; our souls need it.

audrey feltham 26/05/2012 at 15:34

Andy your GOLD medal was well earned good on you

Bharti Hindocha 28/05/2012 at 12:44

Well done Andy. I think you should have got best in show. Are you selling the copper sculptures? Is yes, then, how much are they going for?

Maud is in the garden 29/05/2012 at 10:11

Congratulations. Loved your garden. Was at Chelsea on weds the sun had brought out all the flowers and it looked perfect. Well done