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We’re thrilled to share that Emma Tipping from the gardens team has joined a group of talented finalists in a bid to claim the coveted RHS Young Designer of the Year award at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2022. We caught up with Emma to find out more.

Emma Tipping

Hi Emma, firstly, massive congratulations on making the final stage of this competition. As the only non-professional garden designer in the final this is quite the achievement! What inspired you to take part?

When I was at college learning about garden design we had a talk from RHS about their shows and the competitions, so it’s been on my radar for a few years but it hasn’t been until now that I’ve taken part. I didn’t expect to get very far in the process and just thought the feedback on the initial sketches and designs would be a good learning experience. And now I’m in the final!

Can you share a little about the design you’ve chosen? What were the thoughts and ideas behind it?

My garden design was inspired by my upbringing and heritage. My mum is from Guyana so I wanted something a bit tropical and for it to be based on the Guyanese-Caribbean culture of ‘liming’, which I experienced a lot of growing up. Liming is essentially hanging out with friends and family, sharing food, drink, conversation and laughter. I was also inspired by The Grove’s own Jemima’s Kitchen Garden so my design features a few edible plants. The name of my garden is rather suitable, ‘Come Lime With Me’, which is a play on the British TV show Come Dine With Me and the term ‘lime’.

With RHS show gardens there is usually an important message behind the designs, so my design also draws attention to sea-level rise – a real concern for both the Guyanese and British coastlines. Water is a key feature of the landscapes of both countries (Guyana means ‘land of many waters’) and is integrated into the design through three water troughs, which have been built and filled to different heights to reflect sea-level rise. The main structure is a large seating bench designed to mimic Guyana’s Sea Wall, a 280-mile-long coastal defence, parts of which are where locals go to ‘lime’ on a Saturday night.

Visitors can expect a fun atmospheric garden with vibrant planting that reflects a cultural mix inspired by my family and our Anglo-Guyanese ethnicity.

RHS garden design

Have you seen the other finalists’ designs? What can we expect?

There’s a real range of garden designs this year, from a ‘Covid Recovery’ garden to a ‘Paradise Found’ garden. I met with the other finalists recently and it was interesting to put their faces to the designs as they’re all so varied. You can view the other submissions here.

What was the competition process like? What advice would you give to others looking to take part in future shows?

Horticulture is a really lovely industry to work in as everyone is friendly and willing to help and give advice. As candidates, we were given mentors to help guide us throughout which was great as there were a fair few rules to remember. For example, we had to be aware of the plants and trees that were deemed unsuitable for the show, but it also meant that I learnt a lot about biosecurity.

It’s been a fairly lengthy process, but enjoyable, of course! I would encourage anyone to take part, regardless of your experience designing gardens. Throw yourself into it and you’ll learn a lot!

What do you enjoy about gardening? Do you see a future in garden design?

I love being outside in the fresh air and seeing the seasons change. Spring and summer are my favourite times of the year as nature begins to flower and bloom, and when the sun is shining you can’t help but feel happy. I would love to do more garden design in the future, this competition has definitely helped with that! At The Grove I’m now working in the Formal Gardens as a supervisor and there is definitely the potential for my designing and re-shaping certain areas of it. I enjoy gardening but having the freedom of creativity certainly makes it all the more enjoyable!

The winner of the RHS Young Designer of the Year will be announced on 19th July.

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