Young Designer of the Year 2014

Congratulations to Sam Ovens who won RHS Young Designer of the Year 2014 for his design 'The Sky’s The Limit'

Sam Ovens has won the unique and exciting competition that gives young garden designers the chance to kick-start their careers, making their show garden debut and to gain invaluable exposure at a prestigious RHS Show.

Pushing the boundaries of fresh design, the 2014 avant-gardening theme encouraged designers to have a daring touch of invention, new techniques and experimentation. The three finalists produced three very different and exciting gardens which look at the daily use of outdoor space, the connection between people, plants and wildlife, and a hot garden inspired by sun worshipping.

The winning design

Sam OvensSam Ovens' winning, Gold-medal garden The Sky's The Limit intended to connect people with plants and wildlife, and remind us how precious our outdoor space is. “I wanted to show that sometimes the simplest things are the best things,” he said.

His intention was to maximise space in a small garden and he achieved this through his planting and design. The bespoke decks look as if they are floating, while flower heads of alliums and verbena punctuate the massed grasses that give the planting texture and movement.

The design aspects include a decking area and seat for relaxing in the garden and some small concrete stepping stones which have been lifted off the ground to allow almost every square inch of ground to be planted. “Only about half a metre of the hard landscaping has a physical footprint in the garden,” he said. Obviously pleased with the way his garden has finished, Sam reaped the rewards of his hard work by winning the competition.

The runners-up

Clare Broadbent

WorkOUTClare’s WorkOUT garden is based on exercise and is an innovative approach to encourage daily use of outdoor space. It received a Gold medal.

A wide range of exercises are offered within this small space, such as the Archimedes' screws that offers an avant-garde interpretation of an ancient technology. As a result, Clare describes her design as “incorporating traditional garden elements such as a pergola into a feature for exercise”. She chose plants for their different heights, seasonality and their relevance to motivation and encouragement with red being the prevailing colour.

Alex Schofield
Prehistoric Modernism

Prehistoric ModernismThe garden created by Alex and his team designed in his words “to bring light and heat in to the garden” received a Silver-gilt medal.

The garden’s pathway of stepping stones, leading to a two-tier lounge deck is Alex’s favourite part and view of his garden.

The surrounding red and orange, Perspex screens gave tinted views into the garden and their burnt frames helped to highlight the concept of heat and fire. A choice of intermingling grasses, hot-coloured perennials and annuals were chosen to help execute the design due to their fiery colours and tones.


See a video on interviews with the three finalists.

The 2014 mentor

Garden designer Paul Hervey-Brookes was the 2014 mentor and throughout the competition offered essential advice and tips to the finalists from planning to planting, from onsite practicalities to PR suggestions. Each finalist also had the chance to help out on the build of Paul's Show Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Will you be next year's winner?

Are you interested in entering the RHS National Young Designer of the Year? We would love to hear from you. For details about how to enter, email Please note applications for 2015 closed on 9 January 2015.

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