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The Kent winners at RHS Chelsea 2015

By Lesley Bellew

Paul Harris brought a ray of golden sunshine to RHS Chelsea by achieving his third gold in a row with his ‘best ever’ collection of hostas.

Kent was all over the show this year, wheeling in a second gold and a barrow-load of silver-gilt medals - just one point off the top, as Paul once said.

Paul, who runs Brookfield Nursery in Ashford, introduced new hostas, Coloured Hulk and Restless Seas, to his stand in The Great Pavilion. He said: “This is the best display I have put together for a Chelsea show and I was helped by students at Great Dixter, they were really great.

Paul Harris of Brookfield Nursery. Picture: Ian West

“I have been to three shows prior to this one and there has been an increase in interest, visitors and sales so I am hopeful that gardening is increasing in popularity.

Kent’s second gold was picked up by Sue Marshall from Marden for her irises grown on behalf of the French plant breeder Cayeux. The gold medal came after a 10 year long wait and her deep purple and white iris Domino, named after her cat, came second in the RHS Plant of the Year in 2014.

Sue Marshall at RHS Chelsea Picture: Ian West

Jo Thompson’s romantic retreat for M&G Investments, a quintessentially British garden with frothy plant combinations and a large natural bathing pool was awarded silver-gilt in the Main Show garden category.

An oak-framed structure to echo the writing rooms of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson in the tower at Sissinghurst Castle Garden gave the garden a true Kent feel. Most of the plants were grown in Kent by Roger Platts at his nursery in Edenbridge.

Jo’s garden hit the headlines with an all-women planting team and again when members of the Aquabatix synchronised swimming group graced her bathing pond.

A rustic gate opened the way to the Kent Hardy Plant Society’s (KHPS) Over the Garden Wall exhibit in The Great Pavilion. It tells the story of how members swap and share their plants, highlighting the pleasure gained from newly acquired specimens. The Hardy Plant Society is a national charity which seeks to encourage and stimulate interest in hardy, herbaceous plants. For details visit www.hpskent.co.uk

Kent Hardy Plants Society display in The Great Pavilion by Ian West

Congratulations to the team who came from across the county to pick up silver-gilt including Colin Moat, of Wrotham; Jeremy and Hilary Spon, of Canterbury; Anne Smith, of Ightham, near Sevenoaks; Mike and Linda Belton, of Northiam, Ali Crayford of Allington, Maidstone; Sheila Wyen, of Whitstable, Fiona Wemyss, of Warehorne, near Tenterden and Barbara Badham, of Penenden Heath.

The garden struck a chord with knowledgeable visitors who enjoyed old favourites and exciting new plants including Disporum night heron, donated by Janet and Peter Regan, of Otterden, near Faversham, who often open their garden for the National Garden Scheme.

A new iris, Leeds Castle, was supplied by Sue Marshall of Iris of Sissinghurst and the cream and apricot bloom made a stunning addition to the garden. Tom Wood of Oakover Nursery, Ashford, looked after the trees and John Waller of Bore Place, Chiddingstone supplied the gate.

Leeds Castle iris on Kent Hardy Plants display. Picture: Ian West

Dyson’s Nurseries, at Great Comp gardens, at Platt, near Borough Green were back at Chelsea for the first time in 11 years and took silver-gilt. William Dyson also scooped third place in the New Plant of the Year section with a stunning salvia Love and Wishes, which has purple flowers and burgundy stems – best of all it has a long flowering season from May to October.

Dyson's salvia Picture: Ian West

The Chelsea Flower Show runs until Saturday, May 23.

For all RHS winners visit rhs.org.uk

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