Belfast Telegraph

Co Antrim gardener Ian digs up gold at prestigious flower show

By Rachel Martin

A Northern Ireland garden designer who has battled depression has wowed Chelsea Flower Show judges with his garden reflecting the experience of mental illness.

Newtownabbey garden designer Ian Price, along with his sponsor and main contractor ID Verde, have been awarded one of the famous gold medals by judges at the prestigious horticultural show for their garden titled Mind Trap.

A gold medal at RHS Chelsea Flower Show is considered to be the pinnacle achievement of any garden designer's career.

However, Ian's victory was extra special because it also marks the first time in 30 years that a Northern Ireland designer has reached the final.

RHS Chelsea is one of the world's premiere flower shows, requiring absolute attention to detail in construction and the careful selection of the best specimens of each plant. To add to the pressure, gardeners are given just 10 days to make their designs a reality.

He said he felt "totally overwhelmed" by the responses of judges and visitors to Mind Trap.

"When I first set out to create this garden, I wanted to turn my experience of battling depression into something positive," he said. "As the idea progressed and I received so much positive feedback about my mission, I realised just how important it could be to so many others too.

"To have now achieved the recognition of the RHS with this gold medal has just blown me away completely and I feel so honoured to have been given the opportunity to exhibit my design at the world's most prestigious flower show.

"I still can't quite believe it. I was in such disbelief I felt like the RHS were going to catch me building a garden in the back of their show and were going to kick me out!

"It just felt so surreal - but I've really enjoyed being here and meeting other designers - it's been like getting a big Chelsea hug."

However, Mind Trap was not just designed to win awards, its purpose was also to draw attention to mental illness - an issue that affects one in four people at some point in their lives.

Ian's mission was to create a garden which can immerse the visitor in an experience that gives an insight into what it is like to suffer from and live with mental health issues.

Every element of Mind Trap has been structured to symbolise a facet of mental ill-health, from the blackwater pond which ripples so as not to allow visitors to see a true reflection of themselves, to the harsh looming metal walls that make the visitor feel caged and able only to see some rays of light at certain angles.

Among the visitors to Ian's garden was the Duchess of Cambridge who told Ian he was "brave" for sharing his story.

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