The Duchess of Cambridge toured Gary Breeze's gold medal winning The IBTC Lowestoft: Broadland Boatbuilder’s Garden on the first day of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
A garden, which features a replica of a 900-year-old oak boat discovered on the Norfolk Broads, has taken gold in the Artisan Garden competition at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Designed by the 2016 winner of Best Fresh Garden, Gary Breeze, the garden is called The IBTC (International Boatbuilding Training College) Lowestoft: Broadland Boatbuilder’s Garden.
On the show’s opening day (23 May), the Duchess of Cambridge toured the exhibit, which centres round a small jetty typical of the Norfolk Broads, which has been made using reclaimed timbers.
At the heart of the garden is the replica of the 900-year-old boat which was discovered by Environmental Agency workers beside the River Chet in Norfolk in July 2013.
Known as the ‘Chet Boat’, the original vessel was 6 metres long and 1.5 metres wide and was double ended. It was skillfully built of hewn oak.
Wooden pegs and iron nails were used in its construction, and between the overlapping strakes, moss had been used for waterproofing.
The surviving part of the boat consisted of a keel plank with four strakes on either side. In the centre of the boat there was a setting for a mast.
In 2015, The Broads Authority commissioned the International Boatbuilding Training College, Lowestoft to create a replica of the ‘Chet boat’.
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The Broadland Boatbuilder’s Garden is inspired by both the traditional skills which continue to be taught at IBTC Lowestoft, and by the ancient landscape of the Norfolk Broads.
The design of the garden has incorporated plants which are of their time and native to the dykes that criss-cross the grazing marshes on the Norfolk Broads.
Concealed amongst a bank of Common Reed there are a broad range of flowering plants including Meadowsweet and Purple and Yellow Loosestrife.
An area of shorter fenland vegetation is bright with Southern and Early Marsh Orchid, Frogbit and Water Soldiers and the Royal Fern can be found together with the much scarcer Crested Buckler Fern.
Against this backdrop, boat builders at IBTC Lowestoft and landscapers at Natural Gardens have nurtured a few flowering herbs and vegetables: peas, garlic, kale, chives, and plain cole or rape.
The garden also aims to draw attention to the relationship between the fragility of this landscape and the need to keep alive the skills of those that have shaped it.