A team from Furzey Gardens, led by designer Chris Beardshaw and including people with learning disabilities won a gold medal at the recent RHS Chelsea Flower Show for their show garden.

The garden, which included rhododendrons, azaleas and primulas, won one of the top awards at the show. While Beardshaw designed the garden, people with learning disabilities who work at Furzey Gardens in Minstead in the New Forest were involved with every stage of it, including planning, propagating plants and the building of the show garden. They will also be involved with recreating the garden back in Furzey Gardens. Independent charities Furzey Gardens and The Minstead Training Project work together to provide training for people with learning disabilities to enable them to lead fulfilled lives. The training is not aimed necessarily at producing horticultural workers but rather to provide a sympathetic environment in which to learn the type of work skills that are required for a range of employments.

Beardshaw commented: “I am absolutely thrilled for everyone and I am genuinely surprised. I really didn’t think it was the sort of garden the judges would like - but delighted they did! This project has brought people and plants that are often considered on the fringes of society to Chelsea and has shown just what they can achieve. “This is a wonderful result for the literally hundreds of people who have helped Furzey Gardens make this garden a reality through their kind donations and volunteering and it’s a great testament to all the hard work given by everyone who has worked so hard on the project.”

Furzey Gardens’ chairman, Rev. Tim Selwood, added: “We are so grateful to the RHS and so many well-wishers and supporters who have enabled us to present this magnificent show garden on our very limited funds. Our Gold medal is a great honour for our whole team who have worked so hard to show what can be achieved by people with learning disabilities provided they have proper support and funding.”