Chelsea Flower Show’s ‘most biodiverse’ garden wins gold

Steffan Messenger,BBC Wales environment correspondent

Size of Wales Size of Wales garden team celebrate awardSize of Wales

Garden designer Dan Bristow and Size of Wales director Nicola Pulman celebrate their award

A garden thought to be the most biodiverse entry in the Chelsea Flower Show’s history has been awarded a coveted gold medal.

The Size of Wales garden – which features more than 300 different plant species – was also judged to be the best in its category at the prestigious show.

Its message is about the importance of tropical forests, which are home to half of all animal and plant species on the planet.

Designer Dan Bristow, from Bethesda, Gwynedd, said the win was a “dream come true” and he “couldn’t be happier”.

The garden includes 313 species of plants, reflecting the number of different types of trees that can occur in a single hectare of tropical forest.

“It’s an amazing abundance of diversity of life, and it’s something that really needs protecting and showcasing,” Mr Bristow explained.

While visitors to the garden are immersed in a rich, green landscape representative of a rainforest, all the plants can – and have – been grown in the UK.

Mr Bristow said he hoped it would inspire people to consider making the planting in their own gardens more diverse in order to benefit wildlife.

“It’s been the main thing on my mind for many months and it’s been an enormously complicated process bringing it into being,” he said.

“It’s really special to be recognised because we took a risk with this design and went out on a limb to do something different.

“I’m elated and exhausted in equal measure,” he added.

Size of Wales Size of Wales gardenSize of Wales

Only local materials are used in the garden including stone offcuts from a quarry on Anglesey

The garden was commissioned by climate change charity Size of Wales, which works to protect areas of tropical forest overseas.

The garden itself was designed in the shape of Wales and featured some of the country’s rarest plants.

They include the Beacons hawkweed (Hieracium breconicola), which can only be found on a remote mountain ledge in the Bannau Brycheiniog national park, also known as the Brecon Beacons.

Meanwhile the Brecon dandelion (Taraxacum breconense) – once found across Monmouthshire and Powys – is also on the verge of extinction.

Studio Bristow Size of Wales masterplanStudio Bristow

Look closely and you will see the outline of Wales in the garden’s design

It was entered into the All About Plants category at the Chelsea Flower Show – for garden designs which are at least 80% planted.

Size of Wales’ director Nicola Pulman said it was a “great honour” to be part of the event.

“We’re reaching out to lots more people – we’re a small charity but we have a big impact,” she said.

After its stint in the spotlight at Chelsea, the entire garden will be moved to Bangor University’s Treborth Botanic Garden.

Curator Natalie Chivers said it would be a “really special and appropriate” home for the award-winning garden.

Rare British Plants Nursery Beacons hawkweedRare British Plants Nursery

Most of the flowers in the garden, including the Beacons hawkweed, are yellow -the colour of hope