Lessons Learnt when Creating an RHS Show Garden!

The Chelsea Physic Garden have followed our show garden progress and below is our final article for them summarising what we have learnt whilst creating an award winning RHS garden.

The article link can be found here http://chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk/caitlin-and-tessa-rhs-show-garden-awarded-silver/

Caitlin and Tessa RHS Show Garden Awarded Silver Medal

Back in January we posted about sisters, Caitlin and Tessa McLaughlin who had achieved a place to exhibit a show garden at RHS Malvern Spring Festival. The show is now over and we’re delighted to hear that the garden won a Silver Medal,  in the post below the sisters tell us about what they have learnt from the process of designing and creating a show garden.


End of the RHS Malvern Journey

Our RHS Malvern journey is over and we have come away with a Silver medal! It has been a steep learning curve for us, especially with no design experience, but we are thrilled with the result and can’t wait to do our next one! Our aim was to create a show garden that represents the importance of food security and the conservation of Crop Wild Relatives and we feel we have achieved this using stylised hard-landscaping and a mixture of wild plants and spring ornamental colour.


Show Garden Lessons Learnt:

1. Always buy more plants than you need – we are beginners and therefore expected to underestimate our numbers, and this resulted in two separate plant dashes around the Three Counties region to buy extra plants, however some of the Gold medal winning, seasonal exhibitors were buying plants on the day of judging!

2. Trust your instincts – if you are unhappy with a planting bed then re-do it. This happened to us with a couple of smaller beds and we were much happier with the final result after changing arrangements

3. Stick to a colour palette – we initially wanted to use a lot more colours for our spring ornamentals but decided to tone this down, and our selection of lilacs, whites and light pinks created a calming element to the garden that the visitors really enjoyed

54. If you gamble with a prototype be ready with a backup plan! – we took a risk on a novel product known as Seeded Concrete, and the seeds in the concrete blocks were meant to cover the entire surface of three pillars. This didn’t happen in time for judging and after a stressful night of planning we bought wild flower turf to cover the blocks, creating living sculptures in the garden, and the judges loved them!

5. A design is only as strong as it’s landscapers – hire a team you can really trust to produce high quality work. Ours did and we were thrilled with the results

6. Trust your nurseries – same as above, you need to know your plants are in the best conditions they can possibly be. Our main recommendation would be Hortus Loci who provided us with brilliant plants and what the judges called ‘the best tree at the show’

7. Have fun! We did this for us, to see what we could achieve and promote conservation. We are so happy the RHS and the public loved the space we created, but the main thing is we enjoyed every minute and can’t wait to do more in the future.

Photo Gallery

Medly 2


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2 Responses to Lessons Learnt when Creating an RHS Show Garden!

  1. Rupert Keys says:

    Hi Caitlin and Tessa, great to see your comments, however I’m intrigued to know which ‘Gold Medal winning seasonal exhibitors’ were buying plants on the day of judging!! Planting due to weather conditions maybe, but not buying.
    Loved the wild flower meadow boxes!
    Congratulations again, well deserved Silver.
    Rupert (Keyscape and Landscape Mentor)


    • caitlin125 says:

      Thanks Rupert, we couldn’t have done it without your help! And congrats again on your beautiful garden, I hope you guys got more organ donors registered as a result 🙂
      Ah you know how editing wants to make everything sound more exciting and dramatic, and now you’ve pointed it out that must be one of those bits!


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