A HAMPSHIRE college has launched its entry for this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Sparsholt has teamed up with The Colegate Seabrook Foundation to create the exhibition ‘Plants, Routes and Branches’. 

They celebrated the launch of the garden with a design unveiling, joined by Sparsholt College alumni and industry professionals. 

The garden has been designed by Sparsholt’s multiple-medal-winning team including Chris Bird and Lucy Lewis in celebration of its 125th anniversary of horticultural training.

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Hampshire Chronicle: The designThe design (Image: Sparsholt College)

The exhibit will explore the history of plant introductions from Hampshire while celebrating the impact of influential horticulturists and the role the college has played in their professional growth. 

It features a plant breeding/laboratory area and a nursery/growing area, home to nursery beds, informational boards and five RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year 2024 entries including Chaenomeles ‘Lemon Sorbet’, Mahonia ‘Meteor’ and Philadelphus Petite Perfume ‘White Pearls’.

The second half of the garden has a classroom area, set up with desks and bookcases and finally a workshop/breakroom area complete with seating, lockers filled with overalls and muddy boots. All four areas surround a central ‘Demo Shed’ with a corrugated panel roof made of recycled plastic.

Quin Walling, horticulture student, said: “The launch has been an interesting networking event; we’ve got to meet lots of local plant breeders and past students and it’s been really enjoyable to meet possible future employers. I can’t wait to see how the garden all comes together and the finished project at the end of it. We’ve got a lot of landscape construction skills now, which has been fun to learn.” 

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Hampshire Chronicle: Some of the studentsSome of the students (Image: Sparsholt College)

Lucy Lewis, horticulture lecturer at Sparsholt College, said: “Plants, routes and branches is about celebrating 125 years of education at Sparsholt, influential horticulturalists and all the plants that they’ve bred and what exciting careers paths our students may take in the future.  

“Our aim for the garden is to inspire young people or career changers to look at a career in horticulture and all the potential interesting places they could go – it’s more than just lawn mowing, the amount you can do with a foundation in horticulture is phenomenal. This will be my seventh RHS Chelsea Flower show and it is a fantastic experience to share with our students. I am excited to be taking more of a leading role this year and could not be prouder of our team as we start to prepare for the show.”  

The horticulture team is encouraging those with a link to horticulture at Sparsholt College to share their stories, experience and images. To do so email hortstories@sparsholt.ac.uk.

Article written by Fred Morris.