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Gold Medal and Best Discovery Exhibit for ‘Rustic Recipes Reimagined’ Sparsholt College Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Gold Medal and Best Discovery Exhibit for ‘Rustic Recipes Reimagined’ Sparsholt College Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Sparsholt College have continued their RHS Chelsea Flower Show medal-winning run with the news of another Gold Medal and Best Discovery Exhibit awarded to the team!  

This exciting accolade is Sparsholt College’s tenth Gold medal, adding to the collection of five Silver-Gilt medals, six Silver medals and three Bronze medals, alongside seven ‘Best in Category’ awards.  

The news was announced after a busy Press Day where celebrities, renowned horticulturalists and Royalty themselves were able to have an exclusive view of the gardens. Famous faces visiting the Sparsholt College stand in the grand pavilion included Alex Jones, Ellie Harrison, Chris Bavin, Alan Titchmarsh, Adam Frost and Sir Clive Woodward.  

Sparsholt College’s 2023 garden entry ‘Rustic Recipes Reimagined’ is inspired by tasty recipes from medieval cookery books that can all be responsibly foraged from the local countryside or grown in our very own UK gardens.  

The fantastic design has been created by Sparsholt’s multiple-medal-winning-team including Chris Bird who is celebrating his 25th RHS Chelsea Flower Show Garden design this year alongside winning the prestigious 2023 President’s Award from the Chartered Institute of Horticulture.  

Visitors to GPA008 can discover four distinctive habitats in this carefully crafted design created to inspire and reimagine our relationship with plants and reconnect with nature. A fruit grove with beehive, Modern Potager with Storage Shed, Flint Well Garden and Preparation Arbour with seating. 

The mixed hedgerow within the garden design highlights the importance of protecting local biodiversity for essential ecological balance. The hedgerow provides shelter, food and protection to wildlife such as hedgehogs, dormice, beetles, birds, pollinators and people. Increasing the complexity of the local habitat with more and denser hedgerows can reduce the impact of predators on vital species such as hedgehogs which are also known as ‘the gardener’s friend.’  

Sparsholt College is delighted to raise awareness of hedgehog protection within this garden as they are proud to hold a Silver Hedgehog Friendly Campus Award in collaboration with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and Students Organising for Sustainability UK

The garden also hosts Thompson & Morgan’s Agapanthus Black Jack (‘DWAghyb02’) which has been awarded the prestigious accolade of RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year 2023. It is one five RHS Plant of the Year 2023 shortlisted entries for new ‘local’ plants within the Sparsholt Garden. The innovative, new and low-input plant introductions also include the Erysimum Colour Vibe Red (‘CDCERY01’), Lavandula x intermedia Exceptional (‘HILLAV’), Cordyline Magic Star (‘TUSO20’) and Geum ‘Orange Pumpkin’ bred by Hillier Nurseries, Hampshire. 

Chris Bird, Horticulture Lecturer at Sparsholt College, commented on his medal-winning run with the College: “It’s a fantastic result, our tenth gold medal and seventh best in category. It’s an outstanding achievement for everyone involved. Staff, volunteers and students have all worked together to make this an amazing success. We would also like to thank Hazel, Keith and George Smith, Hillier Nurseries, Thompson & Morgan and SEASON cookery school at Lainston House for their generous support.”  

Julie Milburn, Sparsholt College Group Principal commented:

“We are immensely proud of the Sparsholt College RHS Chelsea Flower Show team this year. The students have worked so hard to help create a such a magnificent and sustainable garden. We would like to congratulate everyone for their hard work and also to congratulate and thank the wonderful Chris Bird for his dedication and commitment to excellence which has seen the outstanding achievement of a tenth gold medal and seventh best in Discovery Exhibit whilst celebrating his 25th year at RHS Chelsea.”  

The garden provides multi-sensory pleasures, through sight, sound, smell, touch as well as taste and aims to prove that no matter the size of your outdoor space, visitors can reimagine a rustic recipe that can help them connect and defend the future of our natural world by living more sustainably, locally and seasonably. 

Explore the ‘Rustic Recipes Reimagined’ garden here.  

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