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Gary Cox, designer Stuart Charles Towner, Mark Lumsdon-Taylor of Hadlow Group, designer Bethany Williams, John Kemp

Gary Cox, designer Stuart Charles Towner, Mark Lumsdon-Taylor of Hadlow Group, designer Bethany Williams, John Kemp

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Green Seam garden is Best in Show at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Gary Cox, designer Stuart Charles Towner, Mark Lumsdon-Taylor of Hadlow Group, designer Bethany Williams, John Kemp

Gary Cox, designer Stuart Charles Towner, Mark Lumsdon-Taylor of Hadlow Group, designer Bethany Williams, John Kemp

Hadlow College’s vision for the regeneration of a former mining community in East Kent has seen it win ‘Best in Show’ at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

The Green Seam garden, designed by Stuart Charles Towner and Bethany Williams, both students on the Garden Design BA (Hons) course at Hadlow College, tells the inspiring story of hope, endeavour and rejuvenation behind the Betteshanger Sustainable Parks project.

Having been awarded a Gold medal, the judges went on to present the Green Seam team with the blue riband ‘Best in Show’ award in the Show Garden category.

The judges described Green Seam as: “Quite simply a show stopper, with a unique and moving story”.

Set in rural east Kent, the area offered few job prospects for the former miners despite the promises of successive governments. In 2011, Hadlow College was invited to develop a plan to boost local skills, aspirations and innovation, which led to the £40m Betteshanger Sustainable Parks project.

Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, Director of Finance and Resources at Hadlow Group, which operates Hadlow College and Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, said: “The Best in Show success is testament to the design flair of our students and quality of our teaching staff. As an FE and HE College, recognised by Ofsted as outstanding in our most recent education and skills inspection, we were keen to promote our garden design course on a national stage through our show garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

“Green Seam tells the story of the transformation from colliery to country park, and looks forward to the area’s future built on the combination of sustainable green technologies and innovation, further education and creation of new jobs.

“The design of Green Seam epitomises the pioneering spirit of the people of East Kent and shows how we are improving the life chances on offer to local communities. A huge congratulations to everybody involved in telling the Betteshanger story through the Green Seam garden.”

The Hadlow College team and designers were joined at the Green Seam garden by former Betteshanger and Tilmanstone miners, Terry Harrison, Gary Cox, John Kemp, who are involved in the work to deliver the Kent Mining Museum.

The garden was constructed by Maidstone-based RDC Landscape Design and Construction, and sponsored by Willmott Dixon. It features a black wall representing the coalface; coal pillars depicting the miners and their heritage and a lift cage symbolising the miners’ daily descent below ground.

The planting scheme features the vivid pinks and greens of pioneer plants, some of which are rare, showing how they can colonise previously damaged ecosystems, in this case the spoil heaps from the Betteshanger Colliery, and transform them into places of beauty.

Steel structures and metal cables support climbing plants to reflect the shape of the colliery pithead, while black opaque glass pillars represent the future.

Work will shortly get underway on the first phase of the project with the building of the energy efficient Visitor Centre at the Betteshanger Country Park, which is managed by Hadlow Group.

After the show, the garden will be relocated to Betteshanger Sustainable Park and reconstructed near the site of the Kent Mining Museum, part of the visitor Centre, where it will be enjoyed by many thousands of visitors every year.

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show runs until 5 July.

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