Nottinghamshire Prison Triumphs in National Garden Competition

Monday 5 August 2013

HMP Whatton Retains Gardening Trophy Backed by the Royal Horticultural Society

HMP Whatton in Nottinghamshire has been named as the winner of the prestigious Windlesham Trophy Competition 2013 for the best kept prison garden in England and Wales. The prison retains the title it won in 2012 with this latest victory making a total of six wins for Whatton since the award scheme was launched in 1984.

President Emeritus of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Elizabeth Banks DL, presented the Windlesham Trophy, a specially engraved Green Goddess’ fire engine bell to Whatton officers during a special ceremony at the prison on 31st July 2013.

The competition judges Fiona Crumley, John Humphries VMH and Michael Hickson praised the 48 inmates who tended the garden for their use of colour themed borders that illustrated good garden practice; they also expressed their delight at seeing a colony of bumble bees using one of the special bee boxes in the garden.

Wildlife was well catered for in the 30 acre garden with broad herbaceous borders crammed full of a choice selection of hardy herbaceous and woody plants which acted as a haven for insects. A wildlife pond added interest to the garden and provided much needed water for wildlife, including the resident hedgehog.
Polytunnels provide onions, maize and tomatoes for the prison kitchen, while greenhouses provide crops of aubergines, chilli peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Colour intensity that softened newly built areas of the prison was achieved through the creative use of tubs and planters of summer bedding. Lawns, perennial and herbaceous borders and a pollinator-friendly wild flower conservation area contributed to creating an impressive environment for both inmates and prison officers.

The important role gardening plays in the rehabilitation of offenders was outlined by HMP Whatton Governor Lynn Saunders who said: “The gardens create a therapeutic and pleasant environment for prisoners, staff and visitors. Prisoners on the gardens team learn valuable skills including team working and communication, while they also have the opportunity to gain accredited qualifications. This enhances their prospects for employment upon release and help to reduce their chances of reoffending.”

Speaking about the impact of the victory Governor Lynn Saunders added: "This trophy recognises all of the hard work that has been put in by the prisoners on the gardens team. By designing, developing and caring for the grounds, and engaging with the regime and staff, they have increased their self-esteem and confidence. They have also earned valuable skills that will help to reduce their chances of reoffending. All those who work at, live in, and visit the prison can benefit from the pleasant environment provided by the gardens.”

The Chairman of the judges, Michael Hickson says: “The four prisons judged this year were all exceptionally good because the prison staff and all the prisoners involved with maintaining and growing the plants in the gardens had a true understanding of good horticultural practice. The artistic skills of the prisoners also helped HMP Whatton win the Windlesham Trophy this year with their choice of colours and designs, especially within the residential courtyards.

“The judges were also very impressed with all the four prison’s wildflower areas, including wildlife habitats, and the numerous environmental systems that they had in place. The judges also valued the time talking to the prisoners and responding to their many gardening questions. They also felt that the Trophy Competition helped those prisoners involved in the gardens develop a sense of pride, confidence and achievement.”
HMP Kirkham was named 2013 runner-up with HMP Maidstone and HMP Eastwood Park occupying third and fourth places.

HMP Whatton, which is a category C prison that houses vulnerable inmates, previously won the Windlesham Trophy in 1993, 1994, 1995, 2002 and 2012, making it the most successful prison in the history of the award.



Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Garfield Myrie in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3060 or email

About The Windlesham Trophy

Lord Windlesham, then Chairman of the Parole Board and also a former Minister of State at the Home Office, proposed an award scheme for the best kept prison garden in England and Wales in 1983.

During the course of his visits to prisons he had “become increasingly conscious of the value to prisoners of devoting part of their time and energies to gardening”. He suggested that an annual awards scheme would:

• give this interest added impetus
• recognise the effort put in, and
• reinforce the sense of achievement and satisfaction obtained by prisoners from seeing the results of their work brightening up their environment

The help of The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) was enlisted through Lord Windlesham’s contacts with the Society.

Home Office officials, Lord Windlesham and the RHS agreed the formula and judging criteria for the competition, provisionally entitled “The Prison Gardens Scheme”. The name “The Windlesham Trophy” was decided following Lord Windlesham’s presentation of the trophy - a highly polished brass bell from an old “Green Goddess” fire engine, suitably engraved and mounted on an oak plinth. The competition is strongly felt to be of benefit both to prisoners, as originally envisaged by Lord Windlesham, and also to encourage and motivate staff.

The first competition was held in 1984 and has been keenly contested by many entrants in subsequent years.

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 209 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262


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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262