Everything in the garden’s lovely for Meltham man Richard Clegg – even down to the rabbit droppings!
The veteran dry stone waller and his team have helped tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire scoop the highest honour at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
Richard, 57, his sons Lewyn, 27 and Eryn, 18, and colleague Victor McComish, 26, helped to create the 2018 Welcome to Yorkshire Garden, which won a coveted gold medal certificate at the show organised by the Royal Horticultural Society.
The garden – depicting the iconic Yorkshire Dales – was created by Yorkshire garden designer Mark Gregory, who was marking his 30th consecutive year at the prestigious show.
His design evokes a stunning Yorkshire landscape, with dry stone walls, flower-filled meadows, a fast-flowing stream and tumbling beck. Centre stage is a picturesque and authentic stone bothy – or shelter – with a beautiful cottage garden filled with flowers and vegetables.
The garden proved a major hit with celebrities and VIP guests, including Alan Titchmarsh, Joanna Lumley, Alison Steadman and Esther Rantzen when they visited the show. They were also wowed by the sounds of Bradford Brass Band and the sight of Wensleydale sheep at the launch on press day.
There was also an accolade for Richard and his family, who run RLC Dry Stone Walling Ltd. They won the award for the best construction work for their efforts in building the hard landscape features.
Richard said: “I started to look for the stone back in October after being asked to be involved. I got on my motorbike and went round the Dales several times to try to find the right stone.
“I came across the Bolton Hall Estate in Wensleydale and they let me borrow 35 tonnes of dry stone wall from a section which had fallen into disrepair. They also said I could borrow some boulders from the landscape. They were covered in moss, lichen and rabbit poo – which was just perfect! I also asked if I could have some stream boulders from a beck that they’d cleared out.”
With enough Wensleydale stone for the bothy and garden walls, Honley-based stone supplier Abacus stepped up to provide sandstone for other features, including the bothy lintels.
“We’d built it in our minds before we got to the show site,” said Richard. “It took three of us seven days to complete it.”
Richard and his team are no strangers to Chelsea Flower Show success – having helped Welcome to Yorkshire win a gold award in 2012 and a silver gilt award in 2015 as well as securing a silver medal with another customer in 2017.
Commenting on the latest success, Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity said: “I’m thrilled! The garden is a credit to everyone who’s worked on it and to Yorkshire.”
He said the Queen had visited the garden, adding: “She was enchanted by it. She made some beautiful comments and we’re thrilled the judges love it, too.”