The standard this year at the Gardening World Cup was very high, as you'd expect from international designers of this calibre: so the competitive element was particularly controversial, and there was much heated muttering in corners about the judges' reasons for awarding anything less than gold.
But the decision, as they say, is final, so in recognition of the fact that there were some damn good gardens among the lesser medals, I couldn't leave without showing you them, too.
David Davidson + Leon Kluge: Hortus Consensus (S Africa)
|Set into the walls were these charming 'wildlife boxes': I've seen them filled with grass and bamboo before, but never teapots. One of David's Japanese contractors apparently went and raided his mum's kitchen cupboards for this lot|
Gabino Carballo: Dragomed Garden (Spain)
|Planting was sparing and set off well against the pale gravel background: as well as these aeoniums there were aloes, shimmering silver Leucadendron argenteum and olives|
Jihae Hwang: Mother's Sewing Basket (Korea)
|Colour was used sparingly, but exceptionally beautifully in tiles (here at the base of a giant silver needle sculpture which dominated the garden) and in little touches like tiny ceramic flowers set into the steps|
|A rusted metal wall is set with Korean domestic implements: a cooking pan and a gardening tool. In the white rendered wall opposite, Jihae set a little cluster of rusted bolts and springs: the symbols of humility pervaded this garden|
|Inside there was a simple wooden bench with tiny pairs of shoes underneath in a neat row, pots and a basket of fabric resting on top. The tale is of domesticity and simple pursuits, and the importance of family|
Karen Stefonick: Passage Under the Sun (USA)
|This was gardening as modern art. The abstract dominates: a burning sun over two concrete slabs (four lorries' worth, apparently) trickling with life-giving water that flows down into a pool surrounding the seating areas and cutting them off|
|The stepping stones between the two areas 'connect past and present, continents and countries': though separated by water, this is a garden of unity, simplicity and clean, uncluttered space|