Staff and students at Nottingham Trent University are celebrating today after winning a prestigious Gold Award at the Chelsea Flower Show. The University won the coveted award with its traditional 1950′s Hebridean weaver’s garden, designed by student Jackie Setchfield. It was one of four 5x4m gardens entered into the popular artisan section of the centenary show.
Students from across the University’s horticulture courses helped to develop theMotor Neurone Disease – A Hebridean Weaver’s Garden with Jackie, who is studying a foundation degree in garden design in the University’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences.
Jackie’s design depicted a garden on the Isle of Lewis, brimming with dye plants, the extracts of which would have been used to dye fleece, and woven to create our famous Harris Tweed cloth. The garden was intended to be a nostalgic look back to an arduous way of life within these tight knit communities, which continued here in the Hebrides until the late 1960s.
As well as a black house structure it includes a spinning wheel, dye pot and a range of dye plants available in the middle of the last century – including ladies bedstraw, bog myrtle, bogbean and knapweed. There is a stream – or burn – with small waterfalls, along with wetland plants, wildflowers such as harebell, foxgloves and tufted vetch, as well as heathers, ferns, a tree and a small kitchen garden growing potatoes, onions and cabbages.
The brief for the garden was provided by Motor Neurone Disease Association co-founder, Martin Anderson and it was created to help raise awareness of the charity. Martin also worked alongside the university five years ago, when his Shetland-inspired show garden won the coveted gold award and the People’s Choice Award at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Jackie said: ”The most challenging aspect of the project was probably the meticulous research and planning which went into this. I was honoured to have the assistance of all sorts of people eager to help, from the charismatic curator of blackhouse museum on Lewis, the staff at the Harris Tweed mills, to the esteemed librarians at RHS Wisley.
“I visited the Isle of Lewis to source some of the plants, garden features and materials included in the design to ensure that it was as authentic as possible. It was also vital to feel the atmosphere of the islands themselves, to capture their wild romantic spirit and translate that essence into the build.”
Congratulations to all involved!