Businesses, college and primary school work together bring Gold Medal back from Chelsea Flower Show and earn praise from Monty Don

PUBLISHED: 15:57 26 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:57 26 May 2017

Broadland Boatbuilder's Garden, which won gold in the Chelsea Flower Show. Picture: Natural Gardens.

Broadland Boatbuilder's Garden, which won gold in the Chelsea Flower Show. Picture: Natural Gardens.


A partnership of East Anglian expertise has brought back another Chelsea Gold Medal to this region for a popular garden that captured the tranquil beauty of our much-loved Broadland landscape.

The ‘Broadland Boatbuilder’s Garden’, sponsored by Lowestoft-based International Boatbuilding Training College, delighted show visitors with a naturalistic river-side setting that displayed the traditional wooden boatbuilding skills of apprentices trained at the college.

Barley and Ian Wilson of Great Ryburgh-based Natural Gardens used more than 60 native species to design a delicate tapestry-like effect of planting including wildflowers, Norfolk reeds, native orchids and ferns to provide a setting for a three quarter-size replica of the 900 year-old oak boat.

It is known as the ‘Chet boat’ found preserved in the peat near Loddon.

Complementary planting includes Broadland specialist plants such as water soldier and milk parsley.

North Burlingham-based British Wild Flower Plants supplied most of the native plants, with trees and shrubs coming from Sandy Lane Nursery and Felthorpe Forest Nursery.

Barley and Ian also used extra native plants from local sources.

Among these, Ryburgh Wildlife Group provided waterside vegetation, following necessary annual clearance of its open water wader scrape, and Stibbard Primary School donated water soldier from its wildlife pond.

Native willows were rescued following ditch clearance by a local farmer. Friends also gave native water plants from their own ponds.

Barley said: “Not only is it personally very satisfying to have achieved one of gardening’s professional pinnacles of a Chelsea Gold, it is equally rewarding to have involved local businesses and the local community in the garden’s creation.

“I understand that children from the local primary school are excited at having been part of it and this can only interest them more in wildlife.”

The garden also received BBC gardening presenter Monty Don’s seal of approval.

“The celebration and attention to craftsmanship, the planting around it, reflects the Norfolk Broads where the boat was found,” he said.

“The attention to detail, the way the orchids are put in the grass, the moorhen nest in the corner, the way the water is set - everything is a celebration of craftsmanship.”

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