First Time Designers’ Clean Sweep at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024

Today, first time designers dominated the “Best In” awards for each category at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Muscular Dystrophy UK – Forest Bathing Garden, Ula Maria’s debut entry at RHS Chelsea won Best in Show. It is inspired by the ancient Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku and showcases how an immersive, yet accessible, garden can offer a place of refuge to those affected by a muscle wasting condition.

Maria was previously awarded RHS Young Designer of the Year at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2017 which helped launch her career in garden design.

On receiving the award, Maria said: “It’s incredible, I can’t believe it, it’s amazing. I’m so proud!”

RHS Chair of Show Garden Judges Liz Nicholson said: “This has been one of the toughest years to judge, with exemplary designs and much to enjoy in design detailing. There are some fantastic narratives and storytelling amongst the gardens. Ula’s design is a wonderful slice of forest edge brought to the heart of the RHS Chelsea showground. It is immersive, relaxing and calming. Its use of flint, which is a difficult material to work with, is notable, creating possibly the biggest insect habitat I’ve ever seen. Coupled with faultless planting to make an innovative, artistic, and precise garden, it is a clear winner.”

Best Sanctuary Garden was awarded to Burma Skincare Initiative Spirit of Partnership Garden designed by Helen Olney. As Creative Director of BBC Sounds, this is Olney’s first ever garden design. Other “Best In” awards went to The Ecotherapy Garden by Tom Bannister in the Balcony and Container category, and The Size of Wales Garden designed by Daniel Bristow in the All About Plants gardens.

In another RHS Chelsea first, the inaugural RHS Children’s Choice Award was presented to Anne-Marie Powell for The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with The National Trust.

Junior Judges from Christ Church Primary School, London, said: “I love how certain areas provide more shade than others and you can obviously see that the planting has attracted a lot of wildlife. Just looking you can see all the bees and the bugs everywhere.”

Another added: “The planting is on point, and it looks like they spent a lot of time on it.”

Best Construction Awards were presented to Matthew Childs’ Terrence Higgins Trust Bridge to 2030 Garden which was built by Yoreland Design Ltd in the Show Gardens category, and Catherine MacDonald’s The Boodles National Gallery Garden built by Gadd Brothers Trees and Landscapes in the Sanctuary Gardens.

Proving the extensive talent represented in the Great Pavilion, a total of 50 Gold Medals were awarded with Best Exhibit going to Leon Kluge Garden Design for an exhibit of Cape Flora of South Africa.

The full awards list is available on the RHS Website here:


Notes to editors

For more details and images, please contact the RHS Press Office at [email protected]

About the RHS
Since our formation in 1804, the RHS has grown into the UK’s leading gardening charity, touching the lives of millions of people. Perhaps the secret to our longevity is that we’ve never stood still. In the last decade alone we’ve taken on the largest hands-on project the RHS has ever tackled by opening the new RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford, Greater Manchester, and invested in the science that underpins all our work by building RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science.

We have committed to being net positive for nature and people by 2030. We are also committed to being truly inclusive and to reflect all the communities of the UK.  

Across our five RHS gardens we welcome more than three million visitors each year to enjoy over 34,000 different cultivated plants. Events such as the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, other national shows, our schools and community work, and partnerships such as Britain in Bloom, all spread the shared joy of gardening to wide-reaching audiences.

Throughout it all we’ve held true to our charitable core – to encourage and improve the science, art and practice of horticulture –to share the love of gardening and the positive benefits it brings.

For more information visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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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.