Merrist Wood College and University Centre Celebrates Double Win at BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair

A young team of Merrist Wood Horticultural and Landscaping students have been awarded the top Platinum prize as well as ‘Best In Show’ accolade at BBC Gardeners World Live Spring Fair College Garden Competition last week.


This is the second year running that the college team have entered the College Gardens category, last year claiming gold prize, at the live event taking place on the beautiful Beaulieu Estate in Brockenhurst, Hampshire.

The group of Horticulture and Landscaping students from Merrist Wood have spent the past couple of months designing and planning their show garden to enter this prestigious competition.

The theme of this year’s entries was, ‘Gardening in a Challenging Climate’ with the focus very much on sustainability. The group of students once again worked closely with mentor, award-winning garden designer, Cherry Carmen, to bring the vision of their climate change garden, Equilibrium, to life.

The aim of the show garden being to inspire individuals to cultivate more in their gardens, recognising the crucial role that each thriving plant plays in sustaining not only us but also the varied wildlife that inhabits our surroundings.

The cost-effective layout incorporated a green roof, recycled, upcycled, and repurposed elements, as well as two distinct planted zones—one resilient to drought and the other to floods. Most of the materials and plants used in the three-day build were sourced from the college campus itself, keeping the theme of sustainability in mind.

Having achieved well with last year’s entry into the competition, the college was keen to build on their success.

This year’s team was made up of six keen students representing Merrist Wood College and University Centre in the competition – Ben Hooper, 28; William Lawrence, 21; Kieran Saunders, 20; Ryan Conlan, 18; Charlie White, 18 and George Robinson who celebrated his 18th birthday during the event!

Student, Charlie White, said: “Watching my design come to life has been a great experience for everyone involved in the build.

“The team are proud of what we have achieved, and the interaction and feedback of visitors has been really positive and memorable for us all.

“The experience we have gained from the gold winning garden last year has helped me and the team gain great experience and confidence to know we could achieve a platinum award this year.

“It’s been really rewarding to use this opportunity to use the skills we have gained from our college work and work experience in a pressurised environment to get our garden finished and ready in time for the judging.”

Jo Manser, Director at Merrist Wood College and University Centre, said: “We’re so proud of this group of horticulture and landscaping student competitors who have worked hard to achieve this fantastic result. This outstanding example of creativity, skill and commitment shows how dedicated and talented our students are.

“It’s a great ending to their two-year course and we’re looking forward to seeing them develop in their future careers.”

Find out more about Horticulture and Landscaping courses at Merrist Wood College and University Centre:

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