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A garden with barely a flower in sight and inspired by the dramatic transformation of the land thanks to the reintroduction of beavers to the UK won best show at the Chelsea Flower Show.

The garden – A Rewilding Britain Landscape by early Chelsea designers Lulu Urquhart and Adam Hunt – may lack eye-catching flowers but includes a beaver dam, a swimming pool with a pavilion behind, a shabby shed with a corrugated iron roof and plants natives of the UK.

The judges were won over by its depiction of a revitalized landscape in the South West of England, which used West Country stone, salvaged wood and sticks pre-gnawed by beavers – the dam representing a settlement restored from the keystone species.

Beavers have been reintroduced to parts of the country after disappearing in the UK 400 years ago. The garden, designed for the charity Rewilding Britain, aimed to showcase their role as incredible bioengineers within a natural ecosystem, and incorporated crackle willow, hawthorn and alder.

Unusually for the show, the native grasses are shown as they would be seen in the wild, with their previous year’s growth and pre-season seed head remnants, as well as the brown dead foliage of the old season. A soundscape included the beaver’s tail slapping and the creature’s meow.

“It was a fierce debate between the members of the jury to decide which garden to award the best in the exhibition. In the end, all the judges were captivated by the skill, effort and charm of A Rewilding Britain Landscape – every step is exquisite,” said James Alexander-Sinclair, chairman of the judges at the Royal Horticultural Society.

Urquhart and Hunt, based in Bruton in Somerset, stressed that rewilding principles are not just for the countryside. Urquhart told the Guardian he was “saying to give space to nature with this garden”.

“As if we weren’t necessarily just talking about gardening. Leave certain areas. Rewilding Britain is about marginal areas. It may not be a formal garden, but we try to show you what you see in nature when it colonizes, it’s a nice mix of shrubs, trees, meadows, meadows . And that gives rise to mass habitat for birds, fish, amphibians, insects, and that’s what we’re trying to show you in a kind of nano-space.

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“It was fun to mess things up a bit – we didn’t want our plants to look like they had been in a pot. We wanted them to look wild.

Hunt said: “When we design we try to look at habitat, as well as aesthetic beauty. When you realize what the habitat does, what it can look like, you can start to find it beautiful. It’s about leaving a small part of your garden wild, unmowed.

“Why not leave a hawthorn tree in the corner with nettles underneath – it creates habitat. I mean this is a wild piece of land – it’s definitely not a traditional garden, but all of these plants in the right conditions will do just fine in a garden.

The best build in the show garden category went to Building the Future Garden, designed for Medite Smartply by RHS Chelsea’s most decorated designer, Sarah Eberle, for her creation showcasing sustainable building materials in a frame “at the edge of the forest” and featuring a waterfall.

Gold medal winners in the show garden category included The Mind Garden by Crocus, designed for the mental health charity by Andy Sturgeon, and featuring a series of curved walls in the meadow planting to highlight how nature can provide refuge.

There was also gold for The Meta Garden, Growing the Future by Joe Perkins, which highlighted the inseparable link between plants and fungi within woodland ecosystems. Inspired by the intricate webs of mycelium that connect and support life in the woods, the garden aimed to highlight the beauty and versatility of wood, as well as the essential role of nature-based solutions, such as planting trees. trees and forest management, in the fight against the climate crisis.

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