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Merrist Wood Students Win Gold at BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair for their Garden Design

Published on: 28 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 29 Apr, 2023

A group of horticulture and landscaping students from Merrist Wood College in Worplesdon have won Gold for their garden design at the BBC Gardeners’ World Live Spring Fair, taking place this weekend (April 28 to 30).

The students have been rather busy over the past couple of months designing and planning their entry into this year’s  College Gardens competition. 

The event is taking place at the Beaulieu Estate in Brockenhurst, Hampshire.

The college reports that it was approached by producers of the show at the end of last year to enter the new College Garden competition category and the team was delighted to get involved, selecting a group of eight keen students to represent Merrist Wood College. 

Having been set the theme, An Ode to Victorian Gardening, the group of students, the youngest of whom is 16 years of age, have been working closely with mentor, award-winning garden designer Cherry Carmen, to bring their vision to life.

The students discuss their plans for their garden design.

Their goal has been to create a garden that promotes wellbeing, providing a place of solace and connection for students and visitors alike.

The garden design features two benches made from a wind-felled Western Hemlock tree (a species introduced to this country by the Victorians) and taken from the Merrist Wood estate.

Displaying a good example of how Activate Learning colleges (of which Merrist Wood College is one of) work in collaboration, the college says timber was recently milled by its arboriculture apprentices, and the finished planks were crafted into the benches by carpentry apprentices from Active Learning’s Guildford College.

The benches will sit with much pride at the Merrist Wood campus once the event is finished.

Building the garden at the BBC Gardeners’ World Live Spring Fair.

The director at Merrist Wood College, Jo Manser, said today (April 28): “We are absolutely thrilled that the pure hard work, talent and enthusiasm of our student team has been recognised for this outstanding example of creativity, skill and commitment.

“We are so proud of this group of learners, who are much younger than the other competing teams, and it is the first time they have ever taken part in an event such as this.

“I commend the positive, can-do attitude of our learners and must also thank our small group of staff that have been on site all week, ensuring that our winning competitors were able to create this award-winning show garden! 

“We love any opportunity to show what our fantastic students are capable of; they should be rightfully proud of their truly extraordinary achievement this week. We are quite sure that successful careers in this industry await all of them!” 

Hard at work building their winning garden.

Having arrived at the show site on Monday, the team spent three days building their show garden which they named ‘Elysium’ – a space which promotes wellbeing and serves to provide a place of peace, solace and connection for students and visitors alike. 

Jo Manser added: “We’re also incredibly grateful to our sponsors and supporters who have given and lent us all manner of materials to help the students achieve their vision.

The BBC Gardeners’ World Live Spring Fair offers a unique opportunity for Merrist Wood College’s horticulture and landscaping students to showcase their skills and creativity to a wider audience.

The college adds that visitors to the fair will have the chance to see the students’ garden first hand and be inspired by their innovative and contemporary approach to garden design, albeit with a classic Victorian accent.

Tickets for the fair can be booked at:

More about our Horticulture and Landscaping courses here:

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Responses to Merrist Wood Students Win Gold at BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair for their Garden Design

  1. Toni Hourahane Reply

    May 1, 2023 at 4:55 pm

    Excellent news that our Merrist Woods students are so well educated. Well done.

  2. Gina Redpath Reply

    May 1, 2023 at 8:56 pm

    This is fantastic – congratulations to all.

    Such a fabulous achievement.

    Gina Redpath is a R4GV candidate for Normandy & Pirbright in the forthcoming GBC election.

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