Chelsea cheer for region's growers

They have spent countless hours behind the scenes designing and creating stunning displays that are among the cream of the crop at this year's Chelsea Flower Show.

They have spent countless hours behind the scenes designing and creating stunning displays that are among the cream of the crop at this year's Chelsea Flower Show.

And now local exhibitors are reaping just rewards for their labours with a clutch of top awards from the world's most prestigious gardening extravaganza.

Climate change scientists at the University of East Anglia are celebrating after winning a silver medal for their debut garden which is creating huge interest among visitors keen to know how global warming will affect their prize blooms.

It is UEA's first appearance at the famous horticultural event. And experts from its climatic research unit picked up the prize for their garden predicting future scenarios for UK gardeners under a changed climate.

“We are really thrilled to win a silver medal for UEA's first garden at the Chelsea Flower Show,” said environmental scientist Saffron O'Neil, one of the garden's designers.

“It has been a tremendously fun experience, but with a very serious message - climate change is real and we must all dig deep to mitigate its dangerous effects. A lot of people are getting involved in our stand and we are really pleased that young and old seem to find something from it.

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“We had a 90-year-old lady who said 'I remember these cottage plants', and asked if they are going to be affected by global warming. People cherish their gardens as much as their homes and we are showing what climate change might mean for gardeners in 2050, and why.”

The specially designed garden has three distinct areas - a traditional 1950s garden with old favourites like delphiniums, foxgloves, lupins, rhododendrons that would have featured strongly at Chelsea, and two contrasting 2050 'low emission' and 'high emission' gardens showing plants that could thrive in the UK depending on mankind's success in the global reduction of carbon dioxide.

The NFU has marked its centenary year by scooping its twelfth consecutive gold medal at the show.

Richard Hirst, chairman of the NFU horticulture board and a former NFU county chairman who farms at Ormesby, near Yarmouth, said: “The Chelsea Flower Show provides a great opportunity to showcase the very best of British produce to the world. Everything on the display is grown in this country and it acts as a spectacular reminder to people to buy British as well as highlighting why horticulture matters to the nation.”

Peter Beales Roses of Attleborough added to its tally of gold medals with a unique stand that caught the eye of royal visitors, as well as show judges.

Featuring an ironwork turret and winding staircase, it is believed to be one of the tallest-ever exhibits in the floral marquee.

Amanda Beales said: “We have been very lucky, against the weather, and the quality of the blooms and the overall design is magnificent.”

Thorncroft Clematis Nursery, at Reymerston, near Norwich, also struck gold with a striking display including several new species. And one of the highest accolades went to the Alpine Garden Society's entry, designed by author and plantsman Christopher Grey-Wilson, of Kenninghall.

Measuring just 7m by 7m, it is a riot of colourful alpines with rock garden, scree, bog and woodland areas, showing that small can be beautiful. In additional to a gold medal, the garden received the President's Award for the finest exhibit in the Great Pavilion.

Dr Grey-Wilson said: “We were very pleased because we have never been given that award before and it is a hard award to get.”

Other gold medallists from the region include pelargonium specialists Brian and Pearl Sulman, of Mildenhall; Harvey's Garden Plants, Thurston; Notcutts Garden Centres, Woodbridge; and the Aromatherapy Trade Council, Ipswich.

The Romantic Gar-den Nursery, Swann-ington, near Norwich, and the Potash Nursery, Bacton, near Stow-market, were awarded silver gilt, and Harleston Flower Arrangement Club received a bronze.