RHS unveils Great Chelsea Garden Challenge winning designer

Thursday 14 May 2015

As the BBC 2 Winner of The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge is announced, the RHS unveils Sean Murray’s design for the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show

• As the BBC 2 Winner of The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge is announced, the RHS unveils Sean Murray’s design for the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show
• The RHS “Great Chelsea Garden Challenge” Garden is a front garden, which forms part of the RHS Campaign to get Greening Grey Britain, showcasing ways to have car parking and plants as 7 million UK front gardens contain concrete and cars rather than flowers and grass
• The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge (GCGC) 2015 BBC and RHS partnership has enabled one passionate amateur designer to fulfil their dream to design a garden at Chelsea
• Sean to change careers from a nurse working in occupational health to be a garden designer after GCGC experience

BBC 2’s The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge Sean Murray has won the ultimate prize in gardening – to create a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Sean's RHS Great Chelsea Garden Challenge Garden will be a front garden, which is both beautiful, with an abundance of plants, and practical, with off street parking.

Gravel with naturalised planting is favoured in the garden, with hard surfacing kept to a minimum, due to its associated impact on local flooding and rising temperatures.

The RHS briefed Sean to design a Front Garden for the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, incorporating car parking and plants as part of the charity’s campaign to get Greening Grey Britain. As 7 million front gardens contain concrete and cars rather than flowers and grass, the RHS wanted to showcase a garden, which shared ideas and inspiration to have space to park a car and incorporate plants too.

As the RHS Great Chelsea Challenge Garden is an RHS garden it will not be judged and comes under the category of ‘garden feature'.

The ebb and flow of a water-filled crevice divides the garden adding an element of theatre and symbolising the flooding and draining of the earth. Reclaimed materials complement the timeless beauty of slate dry stone walling and paving. Nooks and crannies are created to support nesting and overwintering habitats for wildlife.

A change in levels emphasises secluded seating beneath a tree canopy. A tapestry of shrubs, perennials and scented climbers is interwoven with annuals and bulbs, providing year round interest from leaf texture, form and changing colour.

Sean, 51, has been so inspired by the GCGC experience and creating a garden at RHS Chelsea he plans to change careers from a nurse in occupational therapy to become a garden designer.

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, says; "It's wonderful that we've helped one amateur garden designer fulfil his dream to create a garden at the world's most famous gardening event. But it's even more satisfying that we've helped him kick start a new career that he has always dreamed of, and I hope many others will be inspired too.

"The BBC2 Great Chelsea Garden Challenge series demonstrated the skill, passion and talent needed to become a Garden Designer and to work in wider horticultural roles. Raising the profile of horticulture is one of our primary charitable aims and we've been delighted to work in partnership with the BBC on this exciting project."

Sean Murray says: “‘I was truly astonished to win. It is the best feeling in the world to have your creativity recognised. Watching the design you have in your mind develop on paper and materialise into a living, breathing garden is an incredible feeling. In the competition, I tried to create an element of storytelling in each garden. I am excited at the prospect of creating personalised garden spaces for others. It was a privilege to be part of an exciting, new collaboration between the RHS and the BBC. The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge was a great apprenticeship to prepare me for the challenge ahead. And wow ! It’s a big one!”

Speaking about GCGC, Philippa O'Brien, Chair, Society of Garden Designers, says: “The Society of Garden Designers (SGD) heartily endorses any scheme that helps newcomers into the garden design profession. All of us started off as enthusiastic amateurs at some stage in our careers and what better start than to be mentored through a show garden by two SGD members - Joe Swift and Anne Marie Powell. Though the SGD exists to promote professionalism and has a rigorous adjudication process we welcome new talent to the industry at every level.”

Sean is completely self-taught and has no formal garden training. He is also a self-taught flower designer and recently passed his NAFAS (National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies) demonstrators test.


Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Hayley Monckton in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3043 or email pressoffice@rhs.org.uk  or hayleymonckton@rhs.org.uk  

Images are available from PhotoShelter at www.rhs.photoshelter.com. Registration is a simple process and free of charge. Please contact pressoffice@rhs.org.uk to gain access.

The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge saw six amateur garden designers compete to win the biggest prize in gardening - to design and build a garden feature on Main Avenue at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015.

Mentored by Joe Swift (Gardener’s World), the fledging designers had a limited budget to build gardens in different styles - including cottage gardens, formal gardens and conceptual gardens - that will impress RHS Judge James Alexander Sinclair and Gold medal winning garden designer Ann-Marie Powell.

1. Relevant facts:
• Trees, hedges and climbers can reduce cost of heating and cooling. In particular, summer cooling saving have been estimated at around 30 percent. 3,
• Garden plants and trees intercept intense rain, slowing run off and reducing pressure on drains especially during summer storms4
• In Leeds, there has been a 13% increase in impervious surfaces over the last 30 years, 75% of which was due to the paving of front gardens5
• 45% of local authorities are considering either selling parks and green spaces or transferring their management to others 6
• 10% increase in vegetation would help control the summertime air temperatures rises predicted with climate change (under the moderate CO2 emissions scenario)7

1 Smith, C (2010) "London: Garden city?." London Wildlife Trust, Greenspace Information for Greater London, Greater London Authority, London.
2 Bates J, Leibling D (2012) Spaced Out: Perspectives on parking policy, RAC Foundation.
3 Akbari H, Kurn DM, Bretz SE, Hanford JW (1997) Peak power and cooling energy savings of shade trees. Energy and Buildings 25: 139–148.
4 Meerow AW, Black RJ (2003) Enviroscaping to conserve energy: a guide to microclimate modification. In: Circular EES-43. Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,University of Florida, Florida, USA, p10.
5 Perry T, Nawaz R (2008) An investigation into the extent and impacts of hard surfacing of domestic gardens in an area of Leeds, United Kingdom. Landscape and Urban Planning 86: 1–13.
6 The State of UK Public Parks 2014 – Renaissance to Risk?
7 Gill SE, Handley JF, Ennos AR, Pauleit S (2007) Adapting cities for climate change: the role of green infrastructure. Built Environment 33: 115–133.

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. 210 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 www.rhs.org.uk/join

The RHS Lindley Library houses and cares for the finest collection of horticultural literature in the world, including a comprehensive collection of 19thc books on the ‘Language of Flowers’. Researchers can consult these books by appointment. For more information call: 0207 8213050 or visit http://www.rhs.org.uk/About-Us/RHS-Lindley-Library.

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 www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262