By Gerry Molumby and Adam Shaw
Ireland can consider the 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show to be a success, after two Irish designers were awarded prestigious medals for their show gardens.
Paul Martin, of Dundalk, and Diarmuid Gavin, of Dublin, received gold and silver medals respectively for their main avenue pieces at the event in London.
It was the first time Mr Martin had exhibited a garden on the main avenue in Chelsea, and he was quick to praise his team who had worked “tirelessly” to deliver a display of a “very high standard”. The garden, a sophisticated mix of lush planting and elegant hard landscaping surrounding an airy garden studio, was titled ‘Garden of Mindful Living’.
Thrilled and delighted
Speaking at the famous flower show, Mr Martin said: “I am thrilled and delighted to win gold with our first major show garden on the main avenue. “It’s a golden morning in Chelsea.”
While Mr Martin is relatively inexperienced at the Chelsea Flower Show, Mr Gavin is a seven-time exhibitor who has now been recognised on three separate occasions. He won bronze on his first visit to the show in 1995 as a young unproven designer, before taking home a gold medal in 2011 for ‘Irish Sky Garden’, the first garden to be suspended in the air.
He now has a silver prize to add to his collection, awarded for his design ‘The Harrods British Eccentrics Garden’. Sponsored by the upmarket London department store, it pays homage to well-known English eccentrics such as the cartoonist and satirist Heath Robinson, and the designer of the elaborate inventions of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s Caractacus Potts, Rowland Emett.
A unique design, it features an octagonal fauxbrick folly, twirling topiary and explosively colourful flower borders. The pair, who are both graduates of the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, Dublin, emphasised the support they have received from the world of Irish horticulture.
They were joined by teams of other Irish gardeners, who assisted with their elaborate, award-winning creations.
As well as celebrating current Irish success at the show, there was recognition for former gold medal winner Mary Reynolds. The film Dare to Be Wild, which charts Ms Reynolds’ journey from the green hills of Ireland, to the desert highlands of Ethiopia, to Chelsea for the garden design show of 2002, was launched at the event.
It portrays her success in achieving a top prize for her ‘Wild Celtic Sanctuary’ design, as well as touching on the modern-day issue of conservation. The film, starring Emma Greenwell and Tom Hughes, is released in UK and Irish cinemas on August 26.