Held at the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Flower Show Tatton Park (17 – 21 July) for over a decade, the popular RHS Young Designer Competition has become synonymous with championing youth in horticulture and will once again provide a platform for budding young talent by welcoming four new finalists this year.
The competition gives new and experienced designers aged 28 and under the unique opportunity to launch their careers and gain exposure at a prestigious RHS Flower Show, while competing for the coveted title. Since it began the RHS Young Designer Competition has proven itself as a fundamental launching pad for young designers with passion and a desire to pursue a career in horticulture.
Finalists this year will have an open theme allowing for a variety of designs, and will be mentored by award-winning designers Mark Gregory and Catherine MacDonald from Landform Consultants. On their involvement in the competition, Mark and Catherine said: ‘We are both passionate supporters of the RHS flower shows so we felt honoured to be asked to mentor these talented young designers. Little else will challenge a young designer in the way that a show garden can and we are looking forward to assisting them on their journeys. Show gardens offer a unique platform that can catapult a career and open doors to previously unforeseen opportunities and we can’t wait to start working with them and seeing these designs come to life.’
Laurence Senior, 25 from Yorkshire, has created a classical garden inspired by Baroque and Tudor formal design. Aspiring to grandeur with restrained elegance, the garden is intended as a secluded idyllic setting in which to live the ‘good life’ outdoor dining, having friends round, getting dressed up, drinking and romance.. The romantic and wild planting is a deliberate and stark contrast to the formal surroundings of the garden, creating a sense of the space being recaptured by nature.
After finishing a philosophy degree, Laurence started labouring on building sites but strived for something more aesthetically-orientated so started out as a freelance landscaper, leading him towards a career in landscape design.
Caledonian Coastal Garden, a contemporary space inspired by the beauty of the Scottish coastline has been designed by 24-year-old designer Aidan Cifelli. Featuring planting reminiscent of a coastal pine forest, trees line the perimeter of the garden while a pebble beach leads to a pool of water and scattered boulders create a sense of a rugged, exposed landscape. This emotive garden reflects Aidan’s memories of growing up in Scotland, and the concept of the coast as a perfect antidote to urban life.
This will be the first garden Aidan has designed since starting his position as a garden designer for Artisan Landscapes in Bristol earlier this year.
Charlie Hartigan, 28 from Worcester, has created a garden to raise awareness of endometriosis, a serious condition affecting one in 10 women in the UK and one which is often very difficult to diagnose. Built against a backdrop of woodland-inspired planting, 1 in 10 has been designed as a sensory experience to offer escapism, transporting visitors away from the pain of endometriosis to a place of healing. Seating is scattered amongst a gorgeous aroma of lavender and the gentle noise of trickling water.
Usually found inside the Floral Marquees at RHS Shows working for her family business Grafton Nursery, Charlie is stepping outside at this year’s RHS Tatton Park to try her hand at garden design.
Our final design by 27 year old Kristian Reay from Somerset, draws attention to plant health and the threat posed by pests and diseases like Xylella. At first glance The Phytosanctuary Garden appears to be a beautiful, attainable space for visitors to be inspired by, but, look a little deeper and it reveals a more worrying story. The bacterium Xylella fastidiosa is native to the Americas, but has caused significant damage across Europe in recent years, something that Kristian is keen to reflect in his planting. The garden features a number of at risk plants including a feature multi-stem Olive tree and strips of lavender planting.
Kristian made his debut at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show last year taking part in the Long Border competition, an experience which led him to take on the next challenge of a garden.
New talent and design is a fundamental part of RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, which has cemented itself as a pioneer of young talent and helped many previous finalists go on to establish extremely successful careers. This year alone four previous RHS Young Designers will feature at RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, including 2013 winner Tony Woods with a garden highlighting the importance of water, 2016 – 2017 winners Caitlin McLaughlin and Ula Maria promote the benefits of green spaces and planting for pollinators, and winner of last year’s title Will Williams returns with a garden for show sponsor Viking Cruises. This year also sees 2016 finalist Lilly Gomm take on the great responsibility of designing for nursery giants Hillier as they aim for their 74th consecutive gold medal at the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
RHS Flower Show Tatton Park will run from 17 – 21 July. Tickets can be purchased at www.rhs.org.uk/tatton