A Cumbrian fellside garden which features slate from Borrowdale's Honister Slate Mine has won gold at the Chelsea Flower Show. The garden, designed by former pop star turned gardener Kim Wilde and Richard Lucas, head gardener at the Lakeside Hotel in Newby Bridge, was also judged best in show in the courtyard gardens category.
Mark Weir, managing director of Honister mine, said the win was 'fantastic for Cumbria'. He heard the news in a phone call from Richard on Tuesday morning, and straight away he and partner Jan decided to set off for London. "Richard and Kim are absolutely over the moon. We decided to go down and see them and celebrate with champagne," he said.
Eighty per cent of the garden features slate from the quarry which was cut to Richard and Kim's requirements by creative designer Graeme Robson. Mark added: "They used old world-style flags in green slate. It's a unique new product for 2005 and I hope it will help put Cumbria on the map."
Kim selected the flags at the mine last month and they were used as flagstones, steps and borders for shrubs. She said: "This is genuinely as thrilling as any hit record - for our work to be recognised in this way by our peers is as good as it gets. Richard and I are just delighted."
Kim and Richard have worked together for three years. Kim won a gold medal and best in show at Tatton Park in 2001 and together they won a silver medal for a garden at Hampton Court last year. Their latest prizewinner is in a fellside setting with a simple waterfall. There is a wild area with native flowers growing in long grass, a dry stone wall and a willow arbour. New cultivated varieties echo the fellside flowers.
Eric Robson, chairman of Cumbria Tourist Board and presenter of Radio Four Gardener's Question Time, said: "This puts the county on the gardening map and sends out a clear message to visitors that Cumbria is a superb place to enjoy majestic, colourful gardens."
The winning garden was sponsored by the Cumbria Tourist Board, Holker Hall and Gardens, Honister Slate Mine, The World of Beatrix Potter and Wyevale Garden Centres plc.