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Horticulture students spread their wings in preparation for Gardeners’ World Live 2022

Horticulture students at Derby College Group (DCG) are busy putting the finishing touches to their show garden entry for this year’s Gardeners World Live show at the NEC next month (June 16-19).

The mature students are on the Level 3 study programme at Broomfield Hall land-based college in Morley which has been specially devised by Horticulture lecturer Mike Baldwin to bring together skills and knowledge in surveying, design, plantsmanship and construction – ideal for students who want to establish a gardening business.

As part of the part-time study programme, the students are all creating several different elements of a show garden which has been designed by one of the student cohort, Rachel Pratt, and is supported by the Lilian Prime MS Centre in Derby.

The Metamorphosis Garden is designed to mark change – reflecting different themes including changes within humans, technology and in nature as well as the transition of the Derby MS Society to the Lilian Prime MS Centre, which provide support to people affected by MS and other neurological conditions.

The design is inspired by the quote ‘if nothing every changed, there’d be no butterflies’ and the fact that the butterfly is the international symbol of MS.

You enter the garden through some butterfly gates and you can follow the spiralling proboscis stylet to the central feature. There is a seat in the shape of a chrysalis in the corner underneath a lilac pergola.

Opposite is another curved seat in front of a water cascade planted up with marginal aquatics.

To reflect the neurological part of the garden, there is a living wall in the shape of human brain, made out of grasses, ferns and mosses and in the foreground some topiary. Around the garden are tiled trees that resemble human nerve cells.

There are some interactive QR codes around the garden, that people can scan to find out the inspiration behind the elements.

Mike Baldwin explained: “Rachel has created an amazing garden design full of highly imaginative planting, structural and technological features which I am sure will amaze both the show judges and visitors alike.

“Everyone has worked incredibly hard to create the different features of the garden and we will spend many more hours constructing this at the NEC ahead of the show.”

Ahead of the show, the students have highlighted and posted a video of the building process and on YouTube. 

Peter Milner, chair of trustees at the Lilian Prime MS Centre in Derby, continued: “We have worked with the Horticultural team at Broomfield Hall for several years to provide the brief and inspiration for their show gardens at Gardeners World Live and have been delighted with the trophy tally that their designs have achieved.

“This time we challenged the students to produce a garden design that recognised and addressed the wide range of difficulties that people affected by Multiple Sclerosis might experience during their life which is a condition that varies both in its complexity and unpredictability.

“The students spent time researching MS and speak to several of our Centre users and an amazing array of design ideas were presented for us to judge.

“We all agreed that Rachel’s Metamorphosis Garden truly spelt out the change we have made at our Centre and the changes in the condition itself.

“We eagerly await the feedback from the show judges and hope that the garden inspires visitors to learn more about this condition which affects so many people’s lives in our local communities.”