Top award for Derby College horticulture students

Horticulture students at Derby College have won a top award at their third appearance at the prestigious BBC Gardeners World Live show at the NEC. 

Having won gold and silver merit medals in the past two shows – the team won the coveted platinum award as well as the prize for the best interpretation of the theme in the 23-strong garden borders category.

The team, based at the College’s Broomfield Hall land-based campus, created a border entitled ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ and inspired by the CS Lewis classic children’s fantasy novel ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’.

Sponsored by the Derby branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Trowell Garden Centre and CED Stone in Langley Mill, the border was created by a team of part-time mature students who are all working towards RHS qualifications at the College.

They spent several months planning the design and worked alongside full-time Horticulture students to grow the plants before heading to the NEC to create the border over three days leading up to the judging. The border took visitors into the fantasy land of Narnia heralded by the famous lamppost landmark – intertwined with white strawberries which was created by student Jane Deas.

Maurice Maguire created the witch – out of contorted hazel, drift wood, metal and incorporating a bug hotel and surrounded by plants depicting the icy environment. The specially-built ravine depicted the move into the warm prairie grasses lauded over by Aslan, constructed by Rachel Eltoft-Prost before finishing at the wardrobe built by Richard Bullock and mirror where visitors could see themselves surrounded by Narnia.

Derby College Horticulture Lecturer Mike Baldwin said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the Platinum medal this year and look forward to re-creating the design at the Belvoir Castle show in July. The students took the design concept that I had drawn up and responded by creating outstanding features and planting.

“The brief was to make the border appear bigger and this was achieved with the different areas depicting the main characters and then the large mirror which gave visitors the feeling of being part Narnia. Everybody on the team played their part – designing different elements to the garden and we are extremely proud of the results.

“We are particularly grateful for the support of our partners – Derby branch of the MS Society, and Trowell Garden Centre .”