The RHS Andy Sturgeon Best in Show Chelsea Flower Show 2019

rhs chelsea flower show 2019 – case study - view portfolio

awards: best in show and gold medal

The M&G Garden designed by Andy Sturgeon: inspired by the concept of ecological succession


This year Andy wanted to celebrate the ability and power of plants to adapt and colonise habitats in what is known as ‘ecological succession.’ The woodland themed garden design is inspired by Andy Sturgeon’s deep-rooted childhood memories of woodland environments.

The M&G garden, designed by Andy Sturgeon and built by Crocus, celebrates nature’s extraordinary power to regenerate landscapes. The garden won Best in Show – testimony to the meticulous planting and stunning theme of new life and growth.

Stratified rock formations and burnt timber sculptures were used on a dramatic geological scale to represent fallen trees and devastating events, like fires. These slice magnificently through the woodland planting and illustrate the opportunity plants seize upon in even the harshest of habitats. The garden captures the idea that communities of plants change with the passage of time.

garden design

The garden design, set against a dramatic composition of sculptures and textures, is a vibrant and lush formation featuring a biodiverse range of plant species. The dark oak sculptures accentuate the fresh green of the woodland plants and hornbeam trees. The whole design is a reflection of springtime – the most optimistic season of the year.

The use of primitive plants like mosses, restios, ferns and equisetum lend an ancient quality and are intended to acknowledge the ability of plants to colonise harsh environments and flourish.

Created by British craftsman Johnny Woodford, the dramatic geographical contrast comes from massive sculptures fashioned from 50 tonnes of sustainable burnt-oak timber.

Alongside a staircase of English ironstone slabs, the theme of life and growth is further represented in a series of small pools and clear streams trickling and winding through the garden and ending in a tranquil pool.


The meticulous planting features a biodiverse range of pioneering plant species from around the world – all of which are able to grow and thrive in the UK climate. Flowers in blue, orange, white and deep purple amongst rich tones of greenery bring subtle jewel-like colour to the woodland garden.

The planting scheme includes a diverse mix of young trees, plants, shrubs, grasses and ferns which are cleverly positioned to create a stunning weave of texture, character and structure to the landscape.

Many of the unusual plants have never appeared at Chelsea before. Among the trees and plants are primordial Equisetum and Restios, Nothofagus antarctica, Carpinus betulus, Gunnera killipiana, Arisaema speciousum and Disporopsis bodinieri.

There are two types of tree, hornbeam (carpinus betulus) and Antarctic beech (nothofagus antarctica), Digitalis albiflora, and hostas including ‘Devon Green’, ‘Sum and Substance’.

The different types of Euphorbia include Euphorbia palustris and Euphorbia ceratocarpa, and the different primulas include Primula japonica Miller’s Crimson and Primula chungensis.

See more about how the garden was constructed here.

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