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Bloomin' marvelous: FE students take gold at Chelsea Flower Show

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Horticultural students from an FE college have won a prestigious gold medal from the RHS Chelsea Flower show for the second year running.

The students, from Sparsholt College in Hampshire, took home the gold for their exhibit The Hop Cycle, which tells the history of the hop and its uses. It was also named best exhibit in the discovery zone of the show.

The exhibit was designed and created by a team of 13 students, with sponsorship from the historic Wiltshire brewery Wadworth.

It features two garden areas: one planted with species of hops that make or flavour drinks and the other a relaxing pub garden.

Sparsholt College has a long history of Chelsea medal success, achieving six gold medals, three silver-gilt medals, four silver medals and three bronze medals at the show since 1998.

Students have to apply to take part in the competition, and must go through a formal interview with staff to make their case.

If they are selected, they have to come up with an exhibition concept, grow and tend to the plants and design and build the feature themselves, often negotiating with other college departments such as engineering if they need help with materials or construction.

They must also man the stand at the show and give out information about their creation.

Principal Tim Jackson said entering such events was an ideal way to boost skills.

“Flower shows and competitions like this are a great opportunity for horticulture students to apply and showcase their skills as well as develop new ones,” he said.

“As well as their practical skills, it helps develop their confidence, organisation and communication skills, ultimately improving their employability.

“One of the unsung points of brilliance of FE is the extent to which we are producing the artisans and craftspeople of the future, who are the backbone of the small business community of the UK.”

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