Kentish Town woman lands Chelsea Flower Show spot fresh from college

Alison Worster in the garden at her Kentish Town home. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Alison Worster in the garden at her Kentish Town home. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A rookie garden designer is set for a bright future after landing a once-in-a-lifetime spot at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show just months after completing her training.

The illustration of Beyond Reach submitted to judges by Alison Worster.

The illustration of Beyond Reach submitted to judges by Alison Worster. - Credit: Archant

Alison Worster’s exhibit Beyond Reach is now on display at the world famous five-day show in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Ms Worster, of Falkland Road, Kentish Town, is one of just three designers chosen by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) to exhibit at the show as finalists in its new Fresh Talent competition.

It caps off a remarkable six months for Ms Worster who only graduated in November with a diploma in garden design from Capel Manor College in Enfield.

She also won a gold medal in March – as part of a team of garden designers from the college – for a show garden featured at the Ideal Home Show.

She said: “I don’t think it could be any more surreal. I have been obsessed by the show – I’ve had sleepless nights dreaming about lining up pots!”

In 2010, Ms Worster gave up a 25-year career in graphic design to pursue her passion for horticulture and started the three-year diploma at Capel Manor – working part-time at Camden Garden Centre, off St Pancras Way, in Camden Town.

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After picking up the Ideal Home Show gold medal from celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh in March, she decided to enter the Fresh Talent competition.

As part of the contest, aimed at trainee and graduate garden designers, each entrant was asked to submit sketch designs detailing how they would decorate and enhance one of three tower sculptures at Chelsea.

As one of the chosen finalists, Ms Worster was given £1,000 to design, plan and stage her display.

The show was attended by the Queen, with a host of stars also expected to visit, including Rod Stewart, Ringo Starr and Liam Gallagher.

Describing the inspiration behind her display, Ms Worster said: “We had to design a bed around the base of a metal tower, which is a great big 4m high.

“I’m putting climbers – such as ivy and nightshade – up the tower and hanging strawberries from it. Since my exhibit is called Beyond Reach, all my plants at the base are poisonous – wormwood, foxgloves, broom, periwinkle.

“The strawberries are the edible bit at the top of the tower which you can’t get to because all the plants are poisonous. The tower made me think of fairy tales – the princess at the top of the tower.”

At the show’s opening on Tuesday, Ms Worster narrowly missed out on scooping the Fresh Talent trophy, which was awarded by a panel of RHS judges.

But having the chance to exhibit beside some of the world’s best garden designers is success enough for the fledgling designer.

“I’ve gone from one show garden to Chelsea – I’m gobsmacked,” she said. “I can’t quite believe how life is going!”