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Award-winning Gardens at Gardeners' World Live 2013

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
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Designers triumph at major horticultural event
Competition to claim the title of the Best Garden at Gardeners' World Live is always fierce and this year is no exception. The 2013 show, running at Birmingham NEC until Sunday June 16, features three different prize categories for garden designers.

Show Garden
The Best Show Garden title was awarded to Jade Goto and Armando Rush for their Austerity Garden. The judges liked the fact that the design reflects the current economic climate, recognising that people do not have big budgets but still want high quality in their gardens. Jade and Armando have used affordable materials, celebrating their aesthetic qualities rather than hiding them.

Austerity Garden, Gardeners' World Live 2013
Best Show Garden: Designer Jade Goto in The Austerity Garden

The Austerity Garden gained a Silver-Gilt Flora award along with two other exhibits, Hay Time and In Perspective.

Hay Time was designed by Gardeners' World Live regular Chris Myers. It features a mini wildflower meadow, a dry stone wall and a Yorkshire Dales barn set against a woodland backdrop. Chris says he wants to encourage gardeners to be inspired by nature when designing their own plots.

Hay Time, Gardeners' World Live 2013
Making Hay: Chris Myers in Hay Time

Tony Smith's In Perspective is at the opposite spectrum to Hay Time as it boasts more contemporary design. Giant planters holding gunneras are placed on top of a grass mound as Tony explores the concept of size and importance.

In Perspective. Gardeners' World Live 2013
Contemporary: In Perspective

Metamorphosis Garden
The second competition category at Gardeners' World Live 2013 is Metamorphosis Garden. Four designers were challenged by Chelsea Show winner Cleve West to build gardens using a limited range of materials. Each exhibit had to contain paving, walling material, timber boards, steel panels and a water feature. The one judged the best was Woke From Troubled Dreams which gained designer Owen Morgan a gold medal.

His garden has three sections which represent a journey from a cold, austere emotion to a warm embrace. He says he wanted to convey the sense of both physical and emotional change.

Woke From Troubled Dreams, Gardeners' World Live 2013
Dreaming of a gold medal: Award-winning designer Owen Morgan

The three other Metamorphosis entries were each given the second highest award, silver-gilt fauna.

Sharon Hockenhull's Sketch & Reality is two sides of the same coin. The Sketch section, with a spiralling metal sculpture, uses the raw materials in unconventional ways, creating the impression that the garden is still in the planning stage, while the Reality area suggests a finished scheme with richer colours and movement through the use of water and grasses. Sharon admits that the design restrictions imposed on her made her more creative.

Sketch & Reality, Gardeners' World Live
Creative: Sharon Hockenhull in her Sketch & Reality garden

Around The Corner is designer James Comiskey's attempt to recreate a hidden garden in the heart of the city. He says these spaces often go unnoticed but they are 'hidden gems' – and there are many small patches of urban land that have great potential for developing as gardens.

Around The Corner, Gardeners' World Live 2013
Hidden gem: James Comiskey in Around The Corner

A similar theme is explored in Neil Sutcliffe's Nature Lays Claim which shows a state of evolution from a polluted landscape to a more natural, greener, life. This is not through design, however, rather by nature reclaiming the land.
Four very different gardens using the same hard landscaping in very different ways.

Nature Lays Claim, Gardeners' World Live 2013
Evolution: Nature Lays Claim

Birmingham Borders
The final awards category is Birmingham Borders which is unique to Gardeners' World Live. Horticultural students and budding designers are invited to build a garden in a very small space on a very low budget.

Two gold medals were won this year, with Elspeth Stockwell scooping Best in Show.

Beating The Doldrums, Gardeners' World Live 2013
Joy of sailing: Beating The Doldrums

Elspeth's Beating The Doldrums evokes the joy of sailing and the freedom of the sea using grasses and salvias combined with cornflowers, irises, geraniums and heucheras.

Smoke & Mirrors, Gardeners' World Live 2013
Reflecting on gold: Smoke & Mirrors

The other gold went to Susan Mallett's Smoke and Mirrors – Through The Looking Glass which takes as its theme self-reflection and change. At its centre is a mirror with a chamomile path leading through lavender and herbs to a smoke bush.

Gardeners' World Live 2013
Best In Show: Jade Goto, Owen Morgan and Elspeth Stockwell receive prizes from RHS President Elizabeth Banks (second right)

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Why? A major show in the gardening calendar
When: June 12 - 16, 2013 (June 15 sold out)
Where: National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham
Cost: Advance adult tickets from £19.75
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