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Kent winners at RHS Hampton Court 2019 including Dr Simon Charlesworth, Downderry Nursery

Kent’s big guns of the gardening world were out in force at RHS Hampton Court this week, led by lavender expert Dr Simon Charlesworth, nominated as the show’s RHS Master Grower in recognition of his work breeding and producing plants.

Dr Charlesworth, who has run Downderry Nursery at Hadlow since 1997, said the title was a ‘great honour’ but also highlighted the relief of not having to compete for a medal.

He has won a string of RHS awards but said: “This year I get pride of place without the stress of going for gold!”

Having a fun time: Jo Thompson with the BBC's Michael Strachan and Chris PackhamPicture: Ian West
Having a fun time: Jo Thompson with the BBC's Michael Strachan and Chris PackhamPicture: Ian West
Dr Simon Charlesworth of Downderry Nursery in Hadlow, near TonbridgePicture: Ian West
Dr Simon Charlesworth of Downderry Nursery in Hadlow, near TonbridgePicture: Ian West

But the pressure was definitely on for Steve Edney, of the Salutation Garden, Sandwich, as after setting up his jungle-like display he arrived the next morning to find the wind howling through the open end of the marquee and blowing all his plants around.

With just an hour before judging he put in an urgent call to the show team to rescue him by closing it.

He said: “In your own garden you expect a few stems out of place but here it has to be just perfect.”

Steve Edney of the Salutation Garden, Sandwich at RHS Hampton CourtPicture: Ian West
Steve Edney of the Salutation Garden, Sandwich at RHS Hampton CourtPicture: Ian West

Fortunately, he weathered the gale and was awarded a gold medal to add to the one earned in his first appearance at RHS Chelsea earlier this year.

Alongside in the Floral Marquee, Paul Harris, of Brookfield Plants, Ashford, was showing off his prize hostas to win another gold for his collection while William Dyson of Great Comp, Platt, near Borough Green, with his colourful array of salvias, and Madrona Nursey, Bethersden, displaying a variety of shrubs and perennials, have both been awarded sliver-gilt.

Paul was also displaying some of his national collection of Hemerocallis (day lilies) in the heritage section which won him a silver while Canterbury Cathedral’s head garden Philip Oostenbrinkis showing some of his national collection of Japanese grasses hakonechloamacra and ophiopogon japonicusto give him a silver-gilt.

Paul Harris of Brookfield Plants, AshfordPicture: Ian West
Paul Harris of Brookfield Plants, AshfordPicture: Ian West
William Dyson of Great Comp, near Borough GreenPicture: Ian West
William Dyson of Great Comp, near Borough GreenPicture: Ian West

RHS Chelsea 2019 silver-gilt medal winner Jo Thompson is at the show, working alongside Springwatch presenters Michaela Strachan and Chris Packham advising on how to make gardens more wildlife friendly.

Meanwhile, among the crowds, the Duchess of Cambridge has been meeting dozens of schoolchildren visiting her Back to Nature garden which had been redesigned from RHS Chelsea.

The Duchess ended up staying longer than expected, obviously enjoying the gardens, sunshine and inspiring the youngsters to get outdoors.

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The Duchess of Cambridge at the Back to Nature Garden.Picture: Ian West
The Duchess of Cambridge at the Back to Nature Garden.Picture: Ian West
Philip Oostenbrink, head gardener at Caterbury CathedralPicture: Ian West
Philip Oostenbrink, head gardener at Caterbury CathedralPicture: Ian West
Fields of Dreams: The Downderry on display at Hampton CourtPicture: Ian West
Fields of Dreams: The Downderry on display at Hampton CourtPicture: Ian West

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