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Students to exhibit Show Gardens at RHS Hampton Court Palace

Two South West-based Garden and Landscape Design students have been awarded the opportunity to each present a show garden at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, taking place between 2 – 7 July.

Hampton Court

Hampton Court Wild Child Cornwall design

Hampton Court

Victoria Cucknell from Perranporth, Cornwall, and Hayley Herridge from Ashburton, Devon, are both studying Garden and Landscape Design HNC at the Cornwall College University Centre based at the Eden Project. Their successful selection for Hampton Court marks a first for the course, which has been sponsored by the two organisations.

As part of the programme, students are encouraged to apply to exhibit at various garden shows to gain valuable experience and display the skills and knowledge obtained. 

Victoria and Hayley’s gardens will be judged as part of the Pocket Planting category, open to budding garden designers who are studying, or have recently graduated from, a horticultural course. This year’s Pocket Planting theme is ‘Resilience’ and selected entrants for the category are mentored by award-winning designer Tom Massey. 

For the first time, the Pocket Planting category will be judged and included in the People’s Choice vote, meaning entrants have a shot at winning a prestigious RHS medal.

Victoria’s garden, Wild Child Cornwall, will be a vibrant, biodiverse space designed with families and the North Cornwall coast in mind. Maritime-hardy planting and design will include a resilient and eye-catching pollinator forest featuring Agapanthus africanus (African lily) and pollinator-loving Acanthus mollis (bear’s breeches). Edible flower beds of Borago officinalis (borage) and Tropaeolum majus (nasturtium) lead through to living willow sculptures that invite children to play, sit and observe plants and wildlife.

Victoria said: “The opportunity to show one of my garden designs at Hampton Court has been an incredible challenge and a huge learning curve. Having only started the HNC course in September (2023), I could never have imagined being here now building Wild Child Cornwall at the Palace.  I can’t wait to start designing more.” 

Sponsored by Perranporth Action to the Climate Emergency, Truro School and Slope Stability South West, the garden will return to Cornwall and live on as a community garden in Perranporth on the north coast.

Hayley’s garden, Buglife: The B-Lines Garden, is inspired by conservation charity and sponsor Buglife’s vision of nectar-rich insect pathways crisscrossing across the UK. The garden is designed to showcase how any garden setting can support wild bees and other pollinators. A variety of pollen and nectar-rich plants have been selected to attract a multitude of bee species, including ribbons of Salvia ‘Caradonna’ (woodland sage), drought-tolerant Daucus carota (wild carrot) and Berkheya purpurea (purple berkheya) alongside bee nesting opportunities such as sculptural bee towers, cob bricks, sandy bare ground and tussocky grasses. 

Hayley said: “I felt inspired to create a garden that highlights how any garden, no matter the size, can provide for wild bees and contribute to a much greater national effort to reverse species decline. Gardens can be rich in insect life with the right plants and habitat features which benefits other wildlife and our food crops in return”.

Sponsored by Buglife and the London Buzzing Project the garden will be created using sustainable practices, including using recycled construction waste and repurposed wood. It will then be relocated to community spaces post-show, including the Tabard Gardens Community Allotments and Tyson Road Estate, linking Devonshire Road Nature Reserve and Horniman Museum gardens in South East London.

The Garden and Landscape Design HNC, which is delivered by The Cornwall College Group, is one of many postgraduate qualifications available to study at the Eden Project. Over the course of a year, students develop a holistic approach to garden and landscape design, combining art, horticulture and plant science with professional practice and development of design concepts. 

Dr Jo Elworthy, the Eden Project’s Chief Science and Engagement Officer, said: “We are immensely proud of the students’ achievements and thrilled to support Victoria and Hayley at Hampton Court. Three exceptional exhibits making their way to such a prestigious event reflects the high standards and innovative spirit in the horticultural landscape in Cornwall.”

For more information about learning with the Eden Project visit