Norfolk garden designer wins Chelsea Flower Show gold medal
- Credit: Adrian Brooks
A Norfolk garden designer has scooped a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show for a special garden marking the centenary of education charity Montessori.
Jody Lidgard, who runs landscape consultancy Bespoke Outdoor Spaces in Harleston, is celebrating winning the highest honour in horticulture at the prestigious show that draws tens of thousands of garden enthusiasts to London every May.
Mr Lidgard has previously helped in creating RHS gold medal-winning gardens at Chelsea, including a tea party-inspired garden produced in conjunction with luxury pottery brand Wedgewood last year, but this is his solo design debut.
He has collaborated with the UK's leading charity for Montessori education, Montessori St Nicholas, to create a show garden.
His colourful, child-led and future-driven design showcases a split-level engaging space to nurture children, teaching them about the natural world via futuristic technology. A sunken greenhouse showcases hydroponic technology to allow children to grow edible micro-vegetables and salad leaves.
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He said: "I have designed many show gardens across the UK, but my Chelsea design debut has been something else. Getting a gold medal is a real honour and it does the Montessori movement proud too.
"This is a garden with a strong message and I'm glad the judges appreciated the Montessori approach to education which encourages children to discover the world around them.
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"The long term idea is to cultivate enthusiasm for gardening in the younger generation and perhaps grow the next generation of garden designers to join us."
Preparations for the garden, celebrating 100 years since Maria Montessori brought her pioneering vision for education to the UK, included a visit from Princess Tessy of Luxembourg to Peacocks Montessori Nursery in Stuston to meet the children involved in growing the plants.
The team of 70 from Norfolk's Bespoke Outdoor Spaces have also been instrumental in bringing three other gardens to life at this year's Chelsea Flower Show.
Mr Lidgard teamed up with Tamara Bridge to create the planting design for the IKEA garden designed by Tom Dixon, selecting plants for their medicinal, edible and useful properties. He built the futuristic structure which has attracted attention for its modern and inventive approach to horticulture. The garden scooped a silver award.
Bespoke Outdoor Spaces also constructed The Harmonious Garden of Life for Laurélie de la Salle that received a silver award; and again worked with designer Jo Thompson on the Wedgwood Garden, that this year won a silver gilt award.