Gardeners grow for gold
A GARDEN telling the story of Stoke-on-Trent from its industrial past to the current modern day city is to go on display at the world's most prestigious flower show.
The 'Transformation' garden is one of only 15 show gardens vying for gold at the centenary year of RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
The Stoke-on-Trent Garden Partnership has now unveiled what it hopes the garden will look like when it comes into bloom ahead of the exhibition in London in May.
The garden has been designed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council's landscape team and includes recognisable features such as a pottery kiln and a sunken seating area which is supposed to represent the £350 million City Sentral development in Hanley.
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The designers have previously won RHS Tatton Park Flower Show medals.
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport, said the Chelsea Flower Show would be an ideal venue to showcase what Stoke-on-Trent has to offer.
Mrs Rosenau said: "The area is literally getting its biggest makeover in a generation.
"Stoke-on-Trent is transforming into a contemporary modern city while still retaining its very special character.
"I am proud we are showcasing these landmark developments on the Chelsea Flower Show stage."
More than 20 sponsors have come together to finance the project.
Many of the backers are local firms including Tunstall-based Johnson Tiles, The Trentham Estate and Staffordshire Housing Association.
The main sponsor is Bartholomew Landscaping, based in London.
Managing director Barry Burrows said: "We are utterly delighted to be bringing the design, conceived in Stoke-on-Trent, to full bloom at the Chelsea Flower Show.
"We are excited to work with our partners in the Stoke-on-Trent Garden Partnership to do Stoke-on-Trent proud."
Staffordshire University graduate Nigel Matthews was commissioned by British Ceramics Biennial to design and make a ceramic feature to be used in the show garden which includes two metres of ceramic flowers.
Nigel, aged 50, said: "It's a great opportunity to work on such a challenging and exciting project, promoting the city's heritage, traditions and skills in a contemporary context."
RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from May 21 to 25.