LONDON • Sources of inspiration ranged from algorithms to ancient oaks for designers taking coveted gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, which opened on Tuesday and runs till Saturday.
But it was designer Andy Sturgeon's dramatic depiction of a landscape moulded over millions of years by myriad geological events that clinched Best Show Garden for newspaper The Telegraph at the world's most prestigious horticultural show. His Captured Landscape had faced stiff competition.
The M&G garden drew on designer Cleve West's teenage years spent in the ancient oak woodland of Exmoor to claim a Best Construction gold medal.
Jo Thompson's Chelsea barracks garden, inspired by the development of the former barracks site next door to the show's royal hospital venue, also took a gold.
James Basson's L'Occitane garden, a recreation of the edge of a lavender field that transported visitors through colour and scent to the heart of Haute Provence, also wowed the judges.
Sturgeon, however, had the edge. His bold design and attention to detail won the highest praise for a garden incorporating 17 huge bronze fins representing a mountain range, cool stream water and semi-arid plantings echoing the chaparral of California's Sierra Madre and the Chilean Matorral.
His aim, he said, was to take visitors to an imagined landscape inspired by "things I have seen from my travels around the world and brought altogether into this place that existed only in my mind, until now".
It was a garden comprising 80 tonnes of stone, plants from France, Italy and Spain, and it took 10 months to design. It sought to highlight the need to adapt gardens to their environment and to the changing climate.
The Morgan Stanley garden for Great Ormond Street hospital, to which it will be relocated, also claimed one of the six show garden gold medals. Chris Bearshaw's plant-rich design of woodland diversity, which features dappled shade, restful water and a rich green scheme sprinkled with pockets of colourful plantings, is designed to provide a reflective space for the families of children undergoing treatment.
Diarmuid Gavin's whacky Harrods British Eccentrics garden, with its revolving topiary trees, bobbing box hedge balls and levitating flower boxes proved to be a little too out there for the judges, but did earn silver gilt.
Nick Bailey's Winton Beauty Of Mathematics, which translated mathematics and algorithms into a horticultural delight, was also among the eight silver gilt winners.
The Best Fresh Garden award was claimed by the Marble And Granite Centre with Antithesis Of Sarcophagi, a stark and highly unusual garden within a giant 44-tonne granite cube, created by Martin Cook and Gary Breeze.
The category aims to redefine the perception of the garden, taking a more conceptual approach and embracing technology, trends and materials to create an innovative design.
The Modern Slavery garden, in which doors open a path to freedom from within iron railings in Juliet Sargeant's celebration of parliament passing the Modern Slavery Act last year, was awarded a gold medal.
Singapore's Botanic Gardens is world's best, says judge
A Chelsea Flower Show judge, Mr Christopher Bailes, has named Singapore's Botanic Gardens among the 10 best gardens in the world. It topped the list published in The Telegraph on Monday, followed by the Pukeiti Gardens in Taranaki, New Zealand, and Claude Monet's Garden at Giverny in France.
He wrote: "Choosing just 10 gardens from among my favourites, whether historic landscapes, botanic gardens or the personal creations of individual gardeners has been a difficult task, but all of these richly deserve a visit."
He said the Botanic Gardens, a Unesco World Heritage Site, "offers a real taste of the tropics, with collections of economic plants, gingers and spices set in a charming colonial era landscape dating back to its founding as a leisure garden and public park".
He also praised its "vibrant National Orchid Garden" with its "remarkable collection of colourful bromeliads", calling himself a "committed orchidophile".
"As an antidote to all this colour, the garden still preserves a piece of Singapore's original rainforest," said Mr Bailes, who retired in 2014 following a career which included a 22-year stint as the curator of the Royal Horticultural Society's Garden Rosemoor in England.
Others on his list included the Japanese Garden in Portland and South Africa's Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden.
The Telegraph said he is leading a Royal Horticultural Society gardens tour to Singapore and New Zealand in November.