Dartmoor Prison wins prestigious gardening award

HM Prison Dartmoor has been awarded the prestigious 2021 Windlesham Trophy by the Prison Service and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

The Windlesham Trophy, first awarded in 1983, is presented by the gardening charity each year to the best kept prison garden in England and Wales.

Dartmoor, previously a runner-up in 2018, won the award for the first time, beating nine other prison gardens in a tightly-fought competition.

RHS judges were impressed with the very high quality of entries this year, following the postponement of the competition in 2020.

The judges singled out Dartmoor Prison’s biodiversity, plant propagation and creative design for praise and were particularly impressed by the gardening team’s ability to work within confined spaces and against a challenging climatic backdrop.

Gardeners at Dartmoor have installed planters and raised beds to transform the 200-year-old prison and bring colour to previously austere yards. The gardens supply an extensive range of vegetables to the kitchens allowing the prison to be partially self-sufficient.

There is also a significant focus on wildlife with ponds and grassed areas left to grow wild. A hibernaculum for reptiles and amphibians, and insect hotel have been created from recycled materials providing winter homes and breeding sites, and an apiary contains Cornish Black bees.

A sensory garden has also been built to support everyone’s mental health and wellbeing.

RHS Head Judge Jon Wheatley said: “The wonderful gardens display quality horticulture and management that shows excellence, commitment and teamwork throughout. There is a whole-team ethos at Dartmoor that is clearly evident as soon as you enter and was described by one inmate as a life-changing learning and working experience.

“Crop production is diverse and of a very high quality. It is also a huge credit to everyone involved to have cultivated such high quality gardens.

“The many values of gardening and horticulture that inspired Lord Windlesham to establish the trophy are clearly there to see at Dartmoor.”

HM Prison Dartmoor Governor Steve Mead added: “I am extremely proud of the fantastic work our prisoners do. Dartmoor was built over 200 years ago during the Napoleonic Wars. Working with very old infrastructure and challenging environmental conditions, our prisoners have transformed the site into an attractive, colourful and reflective space among the moorland.

“Winning the Windlesham Trophy is a huge achievement and an acknowledgement of the dedication and effort shown by the gardening team. Congratulations to them all.”

RHS Community Development Manager Kay Clark commented: “Gardening and green space are important for everyone’s health and wellbeing, but this importance is greatly amplified in a custodial setting. The gardeners at Dartmoor have worked hard to make the prison a better place to be for all the prisoners, staff and visitors. They have shown great accomplishment, and everyone at the RHS congratulates them on their victory.”

Additional photographs available upon request.

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact the RHS: [email protected] or the Ministry of Justice: [email protected]

The presentation was made at Dartmoor Prison by Dr Tim Upson, RHS Director of Horticulture, Education and Communities.

Attendees at the ceremony included:
  • HMP Director for Devon and Dorset Jeannine Hendrick 
  • HMP Dartmoor Governor Steve Mead
  • HMP Dartmoor Industries Manager Ben Fisher
  • RHS Judges: Jon Wheatley, Sue Wood and Jim Goodwin
  • HMP Dartmoor full-time gardening staff: Mel Cole, Jim Gearing and Roger Hine; plus support staff: Andrew Turner & Dan Worth.
Runners up
2nd Place: HMP Thorn Cross.
3rd Place: HMP Leyhill.
4th Place: HMP Littlehey.
About the Windlesham Trophy
The Windlesham Trophy competition celebrates the best kept prison garden in England and Wales.
First held in 1984 it was devised by Lord Windlesham, then Chairman of the Parole Board, with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and Home Office as a way of recognising the positive impact of gardening on prisoners. More than 100 prisons have competed in the competition over the years.
The trophy itself is a highly polished brass bell from an old ‘Green Goddess’ fire engine mounted on an oak plinth. It was presented by Lord Windlesham until 2001 when the RHS began presenting the award.
About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society, the world’s leading gardening charity, was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. This aspiration underpins all that we do, from inspirational gardens and shows, through our scientific research, to our education and community programmes such as Campaign for School Gardening and Britain in Bloom. We produce key publications, hold a world-class collection of horticultural books and botanical art, and sell the very best plants and gardening gifts.
The RHS is fundraising £40m to transform our gardens, outreach and education facilities, which includes redeveloping our flagship RHS Garden Wisley and growing RHS Garden Bridgewater, our fifth RHS garden which opened in 2021.
For more information visit
RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.