Local Garden Designer wins Gold at BBC Gardeners’ World Live 2014

Syston-based garden designer June Feehan won a coveted RHS Gold Medal for ‘The Tailored Garden’ having designed a ‘Beautiful Border’ around this year’s theme ‘Birmingham’ set by the RHS as part of the BBC Gardeners’ World Live Show, recently held at the NEC in Birmingham working with Margaret Dobbs a fellow ex-Brooksby College Horticultural student, and both shown in June’s Picture above.
Whilst seeking inspiration for this years’ competition, June and Margaret visited the ‘Back-to-Backs’, a National Trust property within Court 15, Inge Street, Birmingham. During the 19th and for much of the 20th Century, peoples’ homes were also used as workshops for a variety of businesses including tailoring, dressmaking and the many processes involved in the making of pearl buttons from shells. Both Designers had a ‘Eureka’ moment during their tour of the property, and agreed to create ‘The Tailored Garden’, celebrating the people who lived and worked within these houses. June Gold Garden image 1
Working within the confines of a border measuring 5.75m x 1.25m proves challenging but the final design featured a wired dressmaker’s dummy, draped with two contrasting fabrics – one floral design and the other tweed. The planting of the garden aimed to pick out the colours and textures of the materials, as they fell from the dummy, onto the ‘workshop floor’ which was littered with crushed scallop shells, whole shells and coloured buttons.
To create the ‘floral’ side of the garden, June and Margaret chose stunning white Agapanthus, three beautiful pink Gallica Roses – Rosa Mundi, (which resembled a raspberry ripple ice cream) and three impressive Salvia ‘Caradonna’ within the floral section of the border. These were surrounded by Halimiocistus sahucii (Rock Rose), pink and purple Geraniums (‘Wargrave Pink’ and x magnificum), Scabiosa ‘Pink Mist’ and Salvia nemerosa ‘Ostfriesland’, in addition to two grasses; Carex ‘Ice Dance’ and Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’. In contrast, the ‘tweed’ section contained four colourful Heucheras -‘Cherry Cola’, ‘Marmalade’,’ Berry Marmalade’ and ‘Electra’ which was complemented by Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’. A variety of succulents were dotted around the outside of the ‘fabrics’, to add additional texture, interspersed between the crushed shells and buttons.June Gold Garden image 2
Judging day was tense; waiting for the RHS medals to be awarded in the afternoon. After all their efforts, June and Margaret were highly delighted to discover that they had been awarded a prestigious Gold Medal for ‘The Tailored Garden’.
June said “You know that you are being measured against the best garden designers, it’s such a great achievement, especially as the RHS judges use the same scoring criteria as they would for ‘The Chelsea Flower Show’. In addition to the wonderful comments by the RHS judges, the public response was especially rewarding with many commenting on the interesting and unusual use of shells, mixed with the colourful Heucheras, Agapanthus and Rosa Mundi. It was pleasing to hear that many gardeners would consider using some of our ideas within their own gardens”.
Although it has been a wonderful experience planning the garden, sourcing plants, shells etc. June says she has no plans to compete in next year’s BBC Gardener’s World Live. However, she does not rule out attempting a larger show garden in the future, possibly at Hampton Court or Chelsea. For now, the priority is to focus on building her Garden Design business.

June Gold Garden image 3