Globetrotting gardener strikes gold

Andrew Wilson (centre) with his award-winning design
Andrew Wilson (centre) with his award-winning design
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A top landscape gardener from St Helens has scooped a global prize at the Singapore Garden Festival - South East Asia’s version of Chelsea.

Andrew Wilson, together with business partner Gavin McWilliam, won a gold medal and best in show for their eye-catching nine-metre tall Sacred Grove garden design.

Amazingly, the garden, designed to be both spiritual and reflective, was built in the gardens by the bay in just three weeks!

Andrew said: “There were top garden designers from the UK, Australia, New Zealand and America there, so to win was absolutely fantastic.

“I heard that 100,000 people had passed through the gates throughout the festival too, so it was quite a big deal.

“Singapore is such a densely populated island that they actually have a policy of planting on all their buildings.

“It’s such a hot and humid place that we wanted to create an area that was shady and cool too.

“We combined tropical Singapore planting with an English-style meadow, using orchids and grasses. I think our garden stood out because of its ambitious architecture too.

“It clearly struck a chord with the judges!”

Andrew, 54, was born in the old Cowley Hill Hospital and grew up in Thatto Heath before moving to Eccleston.

He recalled how, at 13, he was “one of those annoying children who knew exactly what they wanted to do” anddecided to follow a friend of the family’s daughter into landscape architecture.

Andrew, who now lives in Chertsey, near London, became such an expert that he started teaching the discipline in 1984 and helped to create the London College of Garden Design.

He now juggles his work as a lecturer with writing books and carrying out private commissions via the highly-regarded Wilson McWilliam Studio.

Last summer the RHS judge also created his first show garden at the Chelsea Flower Show since 1995 - and was awarded a silver-gilt medal for his efforts.

He added: “Next year marks Singapore’s 60th anniversary of independence.

“Although the garden festival is normally held every two years, there was talk of them holding one next year to coincide with the anniversary.

“We would definitely go back. It was a really interesting and rewarding experience.”

g Go to page 18 for a report about the St Helens winner of Shed of the Year.