Braunton masons help win gold at Chelsea

North Devon company part of Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winning project with Korean artist Jihae Hwang for second year running.

A BRAUNTON company has moved the stuff of mountains for the second year running to help create a stunning gold medal-winning display for this week’s Chelsea Flower Show.

Owner Steve Compton and fellow mason Cameron Groves of Rural Stonework have been working on a show garden designed by Korean artist Jihae Hwang to mark the 60th anniversary of the conflict between North and South Korea.

Yesterday (Tuesday) the delighted duo celebrated with the rest of the project team at the opening of the show as it was announced their efforts had been rewarded with a coveted Royal Horticultural Society gold.

Entitled ‘Quiet Time: DMZ Forbidden Garden’, the project is 10 times the size of last year and intended to recreate Jihae’s vision of the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea.

Steve and Cameron were contracted by project manager Gardenlink for a second time following 2011 success which saw Jihae’s design win gold and take first in its category.

The powerful display contains a treasure trove of indigenous plants that have thrived in the undisturbed conditions of ‘no man’s land’ amid the abandoned remains of war.

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This is where Rural Stonework came in. Steve and Cameron’s labours included a stone bunker that had to look as if it had stood empty for 60 years, while a ‘mouldering’ watchtower looms above.

They also created a streambed that needed to appear totally natural as it wound its way between the warlike structures.

“Last year it was a four by five metre garden – this one is absolutely enormous and one of the biggest plots on the site,” said Steve.

“There are probably more than 5,000 plants gone into the garden, which is incredible.

“From our point of view it was similar to last time in that we had to build walls which looked as if they had been there for years.”

Steve and his team gathered around 25 tonnes of walling material from the same Dartmoor farmer who had been so generous last year – this time he was happy to let them dig out part of his stream bed too.

The Chelsea Flower Show at Hampton Court in London runs until Saturday.

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