LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A display inspired by travel and sponsored by a British newspaper took the top prize for best show garden at Chelsea Flower Show on Tuesday.
The Daily Telegraph garden designed by Andy Sturgeon and built by Crocus.co.uk Ltd brings together flavors of the Southern Cape, the maquis shrubland of the Mediterranean, the chaparral of California and Mexico and the matorral of central Chile.
Steel screens slice through the design and open clearings of sparse gravel provide places to pause on a journey that culminates in a courtyard at the rear, which is shaded by a cork oak and lulled by the sound of running water.
"I had the germ of the idea while I was on holiday with the children in Italy last summer, every day looking out at a dry landscape of evergreen oaks and lavender," Sturgeon told the Telegraph.
"I didn't want to do an exact copy or even a strictly Mediterranean landscape. I was just excited by the idea of capturing the atmosphere and the romance. Chelsea gives you a chance to experiment, and here I am definitely outside my comfort zone with the planting."
The Best Urban Garden award went to horticultural therapy charity Thrive for a small display created by award-winning designer Jo Thompson, which demonstrates how the charity helps people with disabilities change their lives through gardening.
The garden shows that age and disability are no barrier to gardening, and incorporates raised planter beds for ease of access, an outdoor fireplace, fountain and a seating area, whilst the trees offer support and shade.
Featured plants include Iris "Jamie Roo' making its show debut, as well as a delightful and rare Geranium 'Southease Celestial' alongside caramel-colored roses and rich blue and purple irises.
The Best Courtyard Garden award went to two English national parks for their "Two Moors Festival"
The garden sponsored by the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks Sustainable Development Funds and designed by Christina Williams reflects the landscape of Dartmoor and Exmoor and the festival's rural church concert venues.
Chelsea 2010 Plant of the Year Award went to Streptocarpus "Harlequin Blue', the President's Award went to Medwyns of Anglesey and the Best Continuous Learning Exhibit to the World Land Trust.
Inside the Great Pavilion at the center of the Royal Horticultural Society's premiere London gardening show, long-standing competitors like Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres and Jacques Armand added to growing gold heaps.
Hillier won their 65th gold for trees, shrubs, climbers & herbaceous plants in a stand where the shrub Sinocalycalycanthus raulstonii "Hartlage Wine" made its Chelsea debut.
Armand took its 24th gold medal for flowering bulbs & associated plants with a display that included some Champagne flute-shaped and amazingly dark Arisaema.
"You get bitten by the bug," John Jacques Armand told Reuters at Chelsea this week.
"It's my business, it's my hobby, it's everything to me."
Editing by Steve Addison