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Chelsea Flower Show 2017: Kent gardeners Fiona Cadwallader and Paul Harris take top awards

Fiona Cadwallader had never created show garden before this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show and her reward for jumping in at the horticultural deep end was a silver medal.

Fiona, of Fordwich, near Canterbury, had been a visitor to the world’s greatest garden show for many years and says she found herself with a 'strong design idea for a garden' and decided to send in a submission.

Her love of English literature led her to use Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem This Lime Tree Bower My Prison as the garden theme.

Fiona Cadwallader of Fordwich, near CanterburyPicture by Ian West
Fiona Cadwallader of Fordwich, near CanterburyPicture by Ian West

Fiona said: “I’m absolutely delighted with my silver medal for my first show garden and what’s more it matches beautifully with all my metal work on the garden!”

She added: “For centuries, gardens have inspired great poems, from Homer’s Garden of Alcinous to Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the sentiments expressed in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem echo my belief that one can find natural wonders everywhere if only one has an appreciation for nature.”

Fiona, who studied English Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, moved to Kent in 1999 to raise her family. She is a garden and interior designer so combined her talents to the create the garden. 

Four rooftop pruned limes (Tilia x euchlora) provided the formal structure, complemented with soft underplanting of the borders. 

Fiona Cadwallader's garden at the showPicture by Ian West
Fiona Cadwallader's garden at the showPicture by Ian West

Deep dusky purple fritillariapersica, bearded iris Jurassic Park and peonies Jan van Leeuwen’ and Shirley Temple also graced the garden alongside Geum Lemon Drops and spires of shade-loving perennials and shrubs in muted shades of pale yellow to deep purples.

Fiona designed three contemporary sculptural pieces for the garden: an ornamental stainless steel gate, a stainless steel water feature and a steel chaise longue which added a touch of glamour to the country scene.

She said: “I am really pleased with how the garden came together and the sculptures look really beautiful.”

Paul HarrisPicture by Ian West
Paul HarrisPicture by Ian West

Paul Harris, of Brookfield Nurseries, Ashford, added a fifth gold medal to his RHS Chelsea Flower Show haul for his stunning display of hostas in the showground pavilion.
This year Paul’s display echoed a taste of south-east Asia with a bridge and lamp as the centerpiece of his pristine plants.

Paul decided on the theme after a holiday in Vietnam and he was also resplendent in a waistcoat and tie he bought during the holiday – bespoke garments with hand-painted silk hosta leaves as part of the design.

He said: “I nearly didn’t get the waistcoat and tie as the River Mekong was flooding. I had to walk in water up to my knees to collect them from the tailor. I’d paid for them so I didn’t want to leave them behind!”

Cayeux iris stand
Cayeux iris stand

Sue Marshall, of Marden, ensured the Cayeux Iris exhibit was top notch and took her third gold.

As well as pleasing the judges, the raised stand of magnificent iris in golds and yellows, oranges and bronze, purples and black proved a big crowd-pleaser.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) artisan garden. Picture by Ian West
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) artisan garden. Picture by Ian West

The Commonwealth War Graves Artisan garden by David Domoney, took silver and delighted Kent’s Victoria Wallis, director general of the CWGC and a former chief executive of Leeds Castle Foundation and Enterprises.

She said: “We are thrilled with the garden – the planting, metal and stonework as well as the two weathered statues look absolutely superb.

The reflective garden marks 100 years of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission with elements inspired by Edwin Lutyens and garden Gertrude Jekyll.

Kent's Victoria Wallis, of Kent, director general of the CWGCPicture by Ian West
Kent's Victoria Wallis, of Kent, director general of the CWGCPicture by Ian West

Artist Gary Drostle, from Erith, helped to contribute to Viking Cruises Garden of Inspiration with mosaic work echoing Antonio Gaudi’s colourful creations in Barcelona.

The garden, designed by Sarah Eberle, caught the judges’ eye and was awarded a gold medal.

Viking Cruises' Garden of Inspiration by Sarah Eberle
Viking Cruises' Garden of Inspiration by Sarah Eberle
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