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Prize Winning Gardens at Gardeners' World Live 2014

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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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Design ideas galore at huge NEC show
Garden designer Tony Smith had a sweet victory at Gardeners' World Live 2014 his cocoa and chocolate themed creation scooped a gold medal and the title of Best Show Garden.

Gardeners World Live 2014 Tony Smith
Chocolate Heaven: Tony Smith in his Cocoa garden

Tony has exhibited at three previous Gardeners' World Live events but 'Cocoa' is his first Best in Show.

''When I was working on a garden at last year's show I noticed that the show manager was obsessed with chocolate and when I spoke to her she suggested I design a Willy Wonka Chocolate Garden for this year's show,'' Tony explains. ''We dropped the Willy Wonka element but concentrated on chocolate and cocoa.''

As well as a bubbling chocolate pond the garden features gold paving to suggest chocolate bar wrapping, a cocoa pod seating area and coffee bean trees.

There are also many of the ingredients that are matched with chocolate to create delicious flavours, such as ginger, chillies, oranges, cherries, coconuts, strawberries and mangoes. With the pond emitting a scent of chocolate essence this is truly a mouth-watering garden.

Three show gardens were awarded the second highest medal, Silver Gilt, at Gardeners' World Live, which runs at Birmingham NEC from June 12 till June 15, 2014.

Gardeners World Live 2014 John Warland
Vision of hope: John Warland in his World Vision garden

John Warland's World Vision Garden Grow Hope is the second of a trilogy of designs to remember the 30th anniversary of Ethiopia's famine. The first was at Chelsea and the third will be at Hampton Court. At its centre is a huge aid crate, opened to reveal mature tree trunks to represent the 10 million trees planted by World Vision in Ethiopia's Antsokia Valley. Mirrors on the crate's ceiling and floor suggest that a well managed resource, like a forest, can be infinite.

Dotted around are tree saplings, planted in 1,000 pots, which will be given away at the end of the show.

Gardeners World Live 2014 Harry Ward
Youth and experience: Dean Brown, Harry Ward and John Cavill

At the age of 15 Harry Ward is the youngest Show Garden designer and his Down The Garden, co-created with John Cavill and Dean Brown, is a Silver-Gilt winner. The design and planting reflects Harry's youthfulness and sense of adventure, matched with experienced designer John's more traditional approach. The technical know-how was provided by landscaper Dean Brown.

The third Silver-Gilt was awarded to Owen Morgan's Silent Spring A Wildlife Garden which depicts a suburban garden built to attract birds, bees and bugs.

Gardeners World Live 2014 Owen Morgan
Wildlife friendly: Owen Morgan and his Silent Spring garden

''I want to encourage people to create suitable space for wildlife,'' says Owen. ''There are trees and hedging to provide fruit and nuts, a pond and planting for cover. But it's also a useable garden with a structure made of larch for an outdoor room.''

As well as the Show Garden awards medals were presented to designers in the Metamorphosis section, gardens created using a set-list of materials.

The best effort was judged to be by Jo Jemmison for Heightened Senses which gained Silver Gilt.

Gardeners World Live 2014 Jo Jemmison
Sensing a win: Jo Jemmison

Jo says she tried to 'push the boundaries' with her design, using hard landscaping in innovative ways and introducing some surprises like ferns planted in the water pipes. She also recruited family and friends to help her build a metal sculpture as a centrepiece and a wooden seat that is so wide it could be used as a bed.

Silver Gilt was also awarded to Elspeth Stockwell for Rock Pools, a design inspired by Elspeth's love of snorkelling in Northern Ireland.

Gardeners World Live 2014 Elspeth Stockwell
Irish memories: Elspeth Stockwell in her Rock Pools garden

A series of small ponds at differing levels represent the dropping tide, with carefully chosen plants suggesting seaweed and sea life. A grey painted backdrop recalls the dodgy weather sometimes experienced in Ireland.

A third competitive section, Beautiful Borders, was won by Tony Harding and Chris Cooper Hayes for Poet's Last Rest.

Gardeners World Live 2014 Tony Harding, Chris Cooper-Hayes
Designers at rest: Chris Cooper-Hayes and Tony Harding

Each garden, with the theme of Birmingham, is presented in a very small space but Tony and Chris pack in a considerable number of plants to represent the edge of a woodland glade where a World War One soldier poet composes before going into battle. And the Birmingham connection? The city's library has an extensive archive of the World War One poetry.

Gardeners World Live 2014
Best in Show winners: Tony Harding, Chris Cooper-Hayes, Tony Smith, Jo Jemmison

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Why? Dazzling show gardens prompting ideas for your own plot.
When: June 12 - 15, 2014
Phone: 0844 581 1348
Where: NEC, Birmingham
Cost: 23.75 (adults)
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