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Double gold for Kent Chelsea Flower Show gardeners

Jo Thompson's Thrive Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show
Jo Thompson's Thrive Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show

Two Kent garden designers are celebrating golds at the world's most prestigious flower show.

Roger Platts and Jo Thompson each scooped the top honour at the Chelsea Flower Show this year - as Lesley Bellew found out.

But the winning formula for both was the fact their plants were loved, nurtured and selected in the Garden of England rather than shipped in from a distant supplier.

For Jo Thompson the top medal win led to tears of joy - at only her second outing at RHS Chelsea, with her Unexpected Garden for horticulture charity Thrive.

She said: "I really can't believe it. The feedback from the judges was that 'there was nothing they could fault'. Can you believe that?"

Jo only got into gardening in 2005. She moved from London to Marden and left a 10-year teaching career to bring up her children. It was during this time she took up a garden design course.

She said: "Once I was living in Kent, I suddenly realised this was what I wanted to do."

She is not afraid to experiment with new plants and colour combinations and watches her plants grow, mostly in Kent, throughout the build-up to the show.

Roger Platts, Kent's second gold medal winner, grew plants in his Edenbridge nursery for Jo.

Roger Platts M&G Garden which won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show 2010
Roger Platts M&G Garden which won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show 2010

This nurturing of plants has proved to be the ace this year. While so many designers in the main avenues were having plants delivered by suppliers at the weekend, Jo and Roger had both more or less finished their gardens having brought in about 80 per cent of their own plants.

Roger lives on site at his nursery so he had seen his plants developing every day and selected the very best from a choice of 5,000 specimens.

Nothing was left to chance at his Celebration of Traditional garden - which was filled with roses, delphinium and lavender.

The quintessentially English, romantic scheme defied five months' hard graft of bringing the plants through the long, cold winter.

The judges did not miss the extra sparkle that comes from quality planting against the 'just bought over the phone and delivered to Chelsea ' specimens.

Roger was delighted to pick up his first gold but he explained he always kept his eye on the plants, rather than the medals.

  • Roger and his wife Jeanette will be opening their Leydens garden, at Edenbridge, for the National Gardens Scheme in August. Visit the National Gardens Scheme website for details.
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