Ideal Young Gardeners get priorities right – a solar panel to make tea in the shed!

By on 26th March in Home Inspiration

Alan Titchmarsh looking over a garden

At this year’s Ideal Home Show six gardens were designed and built by horticultural colleges from around the UK to be crowned the Young Gardeners of the Year.

The competition, ran in conjunction with the Princes Foundation for Building Community, had some fantastic entries, all judged by organiser and Love Your Garden presenters,  David Domoney and  Alan Titchmarsh, plus 6 other judges from the Princes Foundation, House Beautiful, Anglian Home Improvements and more.

The brief was to make the best use of space incorporating  lots of land craft such as metal work, hedge weaving, dry stone walling etc. An additional element of the brief was to focus on using organic and sustainable principles within the garden design.


The winners of the Young Gardeners of the Year award was Askham College for ‘The Fibonacci Way’ garden they created. This was the first time they had ever created a show garden, which involved 9 students studying City & Guilds level 3, taking a total of 12  weeks to design, 12 weeks setting out and 12 weeks of specification. Using the Eden project as inspiration, they focused on the garden taking you on a journey, trying to incorporate different aspects of Yorkshire, including dry stone walling. To add authenticity, they included planting the walls with rock plants and weeds and sourced all of their materials locally.

Askham College 'The Fibonacci Way'

The main talking point for us was the clever use of a photovoltaic solar panel on the shed roof. This could be used to generate the power for a light, a kettle or maybe some power tools. As an avid user of the shed, to have free electricity in there would be great. They are renowned for being a cave for men, but with the use of a solar panel, you could create a cosy retreat or a comfortable area for putting those DIY skills to the test.

Although this is a relatively small idea, it is another way to save money and help push for sustainable living. In this circumstance the benefits are not huge, but if you have photovoltaic solar panels installed on your home, then the savings increase. Not only will you have cheaper electricity from converted solar energy, but you could also save £249 a year on your electricity bills. With the ability to generate 40% of your energy needs, solar panels are one of the next steps to take to a sustainable future, improving your home’s Energy Performance Certificate and reducing your carbon emissions.

The other gardens

Shuttleworth garden

‘The Fibonacci Way’ may have been the winner, but the competition was rife and there were some brilliant designs. ‘Reclaiming London Garden’ used lots of reclaimed materials to try and create a traditional garden that encouraged nature to use it. The TOWIE inspired garden also tried to encourage nature with their willow fencing and silicon implant beehive to help boost the country’s population of bees, something we have discussed before with the Surrey Beekeeper. It also featured white furniture and a shallow water feature, as well as it having a low carbon footprint and an impressive hand weaved backdrop, reminiscent of a large sofa. The entry from Chichester also had a focus on nature and won the Best in Show for its bug hotel, built to encourage nesting.

TOWIE inspired garden

Shuttleworth created an interesting woodland garden making terrestrial plants look aquatic. They used logs from their college and used a ‘dead hedge’ to provide texture and colour as it rots. Whilst the Shuttleworth focused on the shape and structure of planting, the Bridgewater garden created lovely shapes and curves to create interest. They had a coin wall, which raised £120 for a local charity and a water feature that only used a small amount of water to complete this tranquil garden.

Raised garden

If you are planning on visiting the Ideal Home Show, we recommend you taking a tour of the gardens for yourself and share your opinion with us, either on the blog in the comments panel below or on our Twitter (@anglianhome) or Facebook page.

Reclaiming London Garden

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