Wealden women go for gold at Chelsea

Sarah (left) and Sue pictured at the Chelsea Flower Show
Sarah (left) and Sue pictured at the Chelsea Flower Show

Gold is the colour for Wealden’s landscape experts.

An imaginative shingle garden designed by two women - one from Framfield and one from Turners Hill - won a Gold Medal at last week’s Chelsea Flower Show.

The pair followed in the wake of the success of Frogheath Landscapes of Burwash Weald, which started the District’s glittering horticultural record with a Gold for its World War I Potter’s Garden.

Frogheath recruits young apprentices via the Heathfield First scheme and employee Tim Dinnage worked his magic on the award-winning garden which movingly recreated the shed, kiln and cottage flower display of a potter who had volunteered to go to the Western Front.

Sarah Cooper (Framfield) joined forces with Sue Flight (Turners Hill) to create a circular display based on the shingle garden at Dungeness made by film-maker, the late Derek Jarman. Derek Jarman combed the beach to find shells, wood, metal artefacts and rocks interspersed with the seaside loving plants that can tolerate salt-laden air.

National design demonstrator Sarah said: “I love that amazing landscape with the Dungeness nuclear power station in the background. It has the most atmospheric feeling.

“My husband Alan has a sheet metal working business and he helped us fix a piece of driftwood sculpture into the centre of the four-foot circle which is planted with grasses, succulents and allium flowers. They emphasise the circular theme and the garden has a strong contemporary feel.”

Sarah and Sue, teach and demonstrate. Sue is also a hands-on gardener at award-winning hotel and estate, Gravetye Manor.

They had been involved in the creation of a Gold winning garden before as part of a Sussex team which designed and built a 25-foot large garden several years ago, but this time the award was more personal.

Sarah said: “This was an amazing experience. People don’t realise just how hard you have to work. For this little garden we were up all night until 5am when we travelled home, then went back up to Chelsea early in the morning but you forget all of that with the excitement of winning.”