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Garden Academy student makes RHS show debut

AFROMEwoman has been selected to appear on the BBC’s ‘Gardener’s World Live’, where she will create her own designed border.

Nicola Oakey, who started at Homebase’s Garden Academy last September, successfully submitted a design for the ‘Beautiful Borders’ category of the show, which will be held from 11th – 14th June.

Nicola said, “I can’t wait to bring my design to life. The Garden Academy visits Barnsdale Gardens every month to receive RHS training. It is really inspiring to spend so much time there and really fitting that it is where Geoff Hamilton filmed ‘Gardener’s World’.

“Designing and building a beautiful border is a great way to learn about what it takes to build a show garden, without being overwhelmed by the size of the space.

“The Garden Academy was lucky enough to be helping Adam Frost build his RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden this year; an invaluable experience, which should really help me during Gardener’s World Live.”

Homebase’s Garden Academy scheme is now in its second year and offers young people the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of horticulture, and receive all the relevant training and support they need to pursue a career.

The students spend a year working full-time in their local Homebase Garden Centre and have monthly training from Chelsea gold medallist Adam Frost. Students also visit a wide variety of horticultural suppliers and study toward a RHS level 1 award qualification.

The design for Nicola’s border had to be inspired by the ‘Industrial Heritage of the West Midlands’.

Nicola’s border,   designed to celebrate the  area’s pottery industry, will be packed full of exciting planting and many pottery-inspired features. An eye-catching focal point will be three Salix that have been woven into bold living columns. Their shape is reminiscent of the chimneys of bottle-oven kilns, which would have dominated the industrial skyline, standing like living monuments to the pottery industry and the world-famous willow pattern.

If the commitment of organising a show garden was not enough, Nicola is also going to make three bespoke stepping-stones that will cross the border. Made out of broken blue and white ceramics, the stepping stones will act as a beautiful, but poignant reminder of the factories where men, women and children tirelessly worked.

Nicola’s planting scheme is simple and elegant with hints of an English cottage garden. Her border has a blue and white colour scheme; timeless colours associated with well-known potteries and will contain bold drifts of herbaceous planting interspersed with a lush carpet of creeping groundcover.

Adam Frost, who founded the Garden Academy alongside Homebase said, “What an amazing achievement! Nicola should be proud that her design has been selected to be displayed at BBC Gardener’s World Live. I have no doubt this is the first of many accolades she will go on to achieve.”

Gardener’s World Live attracts over 100,000 visitors and takes place at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham from the 11th – 14th June.