TV gardener wins top prize at Chelsea
Wednesday 23 May 2012
Joe Swift, the BBC Gardeners' World presenter who was forced to stand down from this year’s coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show after new BBC rules banned anyone involved in designing a show garden, has won a prestigious gold medal for his efforts.
The son of a famously literary Hampstead family, the young Joe might have been forgiven for feeling at something of a disadvantage.
His mother is the writer Margaret Drabble, his father is the actor Clive Swift, who read English Literature at Cambridge and went on to become famous as Richard Bucket in the sitcom Keeping Up Appearances. His brother is an academic.
Joe, on the other hand, was never bookish. A bad bout of glandular fever while in the sixth form scuppered his A level results, and although he went on to do a foundation course in art and design, he dropped out to join a band.
He was 25 by the time he decided to study garden design, with Rosemary Alexander at the English Gardening School. He once described the course, then held at the Chelsea Physic Garden, as "heaven on earth".
One of his first projects was to redesign his mother's garden, a 40ft plot in Hampstead which backs on to the garden of the house where the poet Keats once lived.
Sponsored by the DIY chain Homebase, on behalf of the Teenage Cancer Trust, Swift's first Chelsea garden features a palette of copper, green and white, using rust-coloured irises, libertia and euphorbias. Huge cedarwood screens frame the views of the planting.
Nine golds were awarded to the major show gardens at Chelsea this year.
Best in Show was won by the former Independent columnist Cleve West for the second year running.
Diarmuid Gavin's pyramid, one of the most controversial gardens at this year's Chelsea, won a silver-gilt medal, and an award for the most imaginative garden.
Life & Style blogs
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
- 1 Labour rallies behind Flint as deputy leader to offset a Corbyn win
- 2 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 3 It won’t work, Jeremy: The Health Secretary has lost the confidence of the medical profession in his attempt to reform the NHS
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 'Cool kids' can go on to become losers in later life, study finds
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...
£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...