RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2018 Gold Medal Press Release


Press Release 6 June 2018 – for immediate use

Gold for ‘Turning Point’

 ‘Turning Point’, Yorkshire garden designer Mary Swan’s first garden in an RHS Show, has won a Gold Medal at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show.  Mary says “We got the result this morning so I’m still a bit giddy and very happy.  This is a huge credit to everyone who’s worked so hard to make the garden every bit as gorgeous as it was in my imagination”.

‘Turning Point’ captures the transition from late spring freshness to midsummer plenty.  It is a traditional Long Border moved into the 21stcentury with naturalistic planting design, designed for a windy site with plants in motion, arching into rippling waves.  A striking, sculptural, curving screen divides the border, snakes through the planting and then circles in on itself.  The screen divides the border into sunny and shady sides.


‘Turning Point’ is full of ideas for creating an atmosphere in gardens large and small. 


Notes for editors

Mary Swan is available for interview: contact details below.


Mary retrained in horticulture and garden design after a career of more than 20 years in academia. She worked at the University of Leeds as a Senior Lecturer in Medieval Studies, specialising in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts.  Her former career has given her a deep appreciation of the ways in which landscapes change over time and how every place has layers of meaning.  Since childhood Mary has been a slightly obsessive domestic gardener; her career change means that she now spends most of her time giving  other people lovely gardens and still has to squeeze in time to work on her own!

As well as running her garden design business Mary Swan writes about gardens and garden design and gives talks to local garden groups around the country.  She is also a part-time Lecturer in Garden Design and Horticulture at the Northern School of Garden Design, Craven College, Skipton. 


RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show is the RHS’s newest flower show, now in its second year.  In 2017 around 95,000 visitors attended the show and 90% were from the North or Midlands. 

The 2018 RHS Chatsworth Flower Show is open to the public from 6 June to 10 June. 

Horticultural notes

The main plant supplier for ‘Turning Point’ is the internationally renowned Dove Cottage Nursery, Shibden, Halifax.  Mary’s planting design is in two parts: on the south-facing side grasses catch the wind and dance amongst the foliage, stems and buds of herbaceous plants. Rounded forms of shrubs give density as a foil to the loose herbaceous planting. The whole border is anchored by a feature shrub at its western end, tipping the screen down to its lowest point and extending its canopy over the shade-loving plants on the north-facing side. Here shrubs and grasses balance those on the south-facing side and interweave with loose, subtle, textural herbaceous planting. 


Contact details

Media contact

Mary Swan

Mary Swan Gardens


07528 756664


Mary Swan Gardens





07528 756664

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show


Northern School of Garden Design, Craven College



Wm. Spence – metal screen fabricator, Bradford


Dove Cottage Nursery – main plant supplier, Shibden, Halifax


RHS Chatsworth Flower Show Gold!

After a slightly tense night we arrived at the showground this morning to find a Gold Medal waiting for us on my garden ‘Turning Point’.  A fantastic surprise and we’re still a bit giddy with excitement.

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show ‘Turning Point’ plant list

Now that the garden is finished I can share my plant list:

Sunny side
Achillea ‘W.B. Childs’
Cenolophium denudatum
Cirsium rivulare ‘Trevor’s Felley Find’
Deschampsia ‘Pixie Fountain’
Dianthus carthusianorum
Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’
Geranium  ‘Tiny Monster’
Geum coccineum ‘Koi’
Hemerocallis dumortieri
Osmanthus xburkwoodii
Salvia ‘Miss Elly’
Stipa gigantea ‘Gold Fontaene’
Feature shrub
Amelanchier lamarckii
Shady side
Alchemilla mollis
Asplenium scolopendrium
Cenolophium denudatum
Geranium nodosum ‘Silverwood’
Gillenia trifoliata
Luzula nivea
Melica uniflora f. ‘Albida’       
Polystichum makinoi
Polystichum munitum
Ranunculus aconitifolius ‘Flore Pleno’
Taxus baccata
Tiarella cordifolia
Viola cornutaAlba Group

My main plant supplier was the excellent Dove Cottage Nursery.  Lovely additional plants came from Summerdale Garden Plants, Stillingfleet Lodge Nurseries, Wykeham Mature Plants, Millthorpe Nursery, Palmstead Nurseries  and my friend Sarah who generously allowed us to weed her veg bed which was full of self-seeded Alchemilla.

Some photos of the ‘Turning Point’ planting are on instagram and twitter  and more will be added in the coming days.


‘Turning Point’: making the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show garden

‘Turning Point’ is made.  We finished the planting and tidying up this afternoon, so tomorrow morning will be doing some last-minute checking and deadheading before Press Day begins.  The build has gone amazingly smoothly, thanks to sterling support and expert help from John, Sue, Hazel, Richard, Tracy and Suzi.  Here they are in all their high-vis glamour:




























The work of making the garden has ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous.  In the sublime category has been spending four days working on a site folded between the gilded imposingness of Chatsworth House to one side and rolling, green, tree-studded designed landscape to the other side.  Ridiculous episodes include washing a shrub with a baby toothbrush and sitting on the ground for half a day cleaning up trays of moss.  Those are definitely to be filed under the heading Things You Only Ever Do On A Show Garden Build.

I’ll write in more detail about ‘Turning Point’ later on.  I’ve already posted some photos of the garden on instagram and twitter (@maryswangardens) and will add more during the Show days.