Lowestoft boatbuilding college wins gold at Chelsea Flower Show with garden admired by Kate Middleton
- Credit: PA
A garden highlighting the beauty of the Broads was awarded a gold medal at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
The International Boatbuilding Training College in Lowestoft (IBTC) sponsored the garden designed by Gary Breeze, and won the prestigious accolade for its entry titled IBTC Lowestoft: Broadland Boatbuilder's Garden.
IBTC owner Lyn Tupper said the experience of competing in the world's foremost garden show had been an amazing one.
'We're delighted with the award,' she said. 'It's been a lot of hard work but we're absolutely thrilled to win the gold medal.'
She paid tribute to the 20 strong team of staff and students involved in the project from the start.
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'Everyone worked so hard for this,' she said. 'Gary won gold last year so we were obviously hoping there was a chance, but you just never know.'
The garden was centred around a small jetty typical of the Norfolk Broads with wild, mostly Fenland and waterside planting. At its heart lay a replica of a 900-year-old boat that was discovered beside the River Chet in 2013. The garden reflects how a boat-builder of the time would have lived and worked.
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Mr Breeze, a former student and member of staff of the college, said he was elated with the award. 'This was my second garden and second medal so I'm having a good run at the moment,' he said.
Comparing the Broads garden to his Fresh Garden entry last year, which also won the category, Mr Breeze said this year's entry was more challenging. 'It was a lot bigger, had more plants and was more complicated,' he added.
One of the highlights of the show was hosting the Duchess of Cambridge when she visited the stand.
'She was in the garden for quite a while and had to be dragged out by her security lady,' said Mr Breeze. 'Having her visit was the icing on the cake really.'
He said Kate had shown a lot of interest in the boat and the beauty of its craftmanship. 'I think she was interested in the Broads connection,' he said.
Great Ryburgh's Barley and Ian Wilson also played a crucial role in the garden. They were responsible for the naturalistic planting incorporated into the design and in order to produce the look of a natural habitat, decided to grow the reedbed in sections. This allowed the native plants to develop together over some months and the sections were then linked together on site to form an entirely realistic reedbed.
'Not only is it personally very satisfying to have achieved one of gardening's professional pinnacles of a Chelsea Gold, it is equally rewarding to have involved the local community in the garden's creation,' said Mrs Wilson.
The Chelsea Flower Show is being held at the Royal Hospital gardens in Chelsea and ends on Saturday.