When we talk about medals, we often associate this with the Olympics or other sporting achievements. Athletes sweat blood and tears during their training, and dedicate years upon years training hard in the hope of one day being presented with a prestigious gold, silver, or bronze.
Similarly, hard work and dedication is put into the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, in the hope of winning a medal. Designers invest great amounts of time and energy into preparing their creations with the only difference being that there are four types of medals to win, namely Gold, Silver grit, Silver, and Bronze. Silver grit is a bespoke class of medal in between Silver and Gold, that allows the judges an extra way to recognise gardens in certain specific categories.
Designers are required to submit a brief in advance of the show, including the purpose of the garden, its function, key plants and special features. The Gardens are then judged by an expert panel on how well it is executed against the brief submitted. In addition to meeting the brief, the judges will award marks against the following criteria:
Ambition – the originality of the design.
Overall impression – does the garden work as a whole and have attention to detail.
Design – does the garden work for its supposed purpose.
Construction – how good is the quality of the build.
Planting – how do the plants look together but equally would they live and survive together.
There are three stages to judging which are assessing, judging and moderation. The assessment stage will include three judges visiting the garden and having a short presentation from the designer so any changes or developments to the brief can be made known. Based on this, the judges then assess the garden against the brief and criteria. During the judging phase, four additional judges visit the garden to decide on a medal. The moderation stage ensures consistency with an independent moderator will listen to the judges vote and agree or disagree. The garden with the highest judges’ score will win best in show.
It is no surprise we have partnered with Crocus for our first Chelsea Flower Show appearance, given their previous successes at the show, being involved with 31 Gold Medals and 12 Best in Shows. Celebrated names have been associated with Crocus including Luciano Giubbilei, Tom Stuart Smith, Dan Pearson, and of course, Sarah Price, with whom Mark Fane collaborated with on her very first Chelsea Show appearance back in 2012. The most recent award win for Crocus came in 2022, for Andy Sturgeon’s Mind Garden for mental health awareness. Take a look here.
This year, Crocus, Sarah, and ourselves are hoping to educate Show visitors on how to incorporate methods of sustainability into gardening, through the reuse of ‘waste’ materials and utilising hand-crafted building techniques. The theme works hand in hand with our vision to be an environmental champion in the horticulture industry and assist our clients to nurture their environments through sustainable biodiversity initiatives. With Sarah’s expertise and our shared values around sustainability, alongside the industry-leading intelligence brought by our neighbours Crocus, we are excited to demonstrate our collective skills on the biggest stage in horticulture.
Sarah Price with her 2018 gold medal award for the M&G Garden, built by Crocus Ltd. Image from Crocus website.