Teens Charlotte White and Ethan Mitchell-Innes scoop silver gilt medal at Chelsea Flower Show
TWO green-fingered teenagers have scooped a prize at the Chelsea Flower Show after entering the prestigious event for the first time.
Former Priestlands School pupils Charlotte White and Ethan Mitchell-Innes say they are “totally thrilled” with their award – a silver gilt medal, which is one above silver.
They earned it for their intricate creation celebrating the 300th anniversary of pioneering ecologist Gilbert White who lived in Selborne, Hampshire.
The display, which they had planned to enter last year until the event was called off due to the pandemic, was designed by the pair’s lecturer at Sparsholt College, near Winchester, which they both attended up until this summer.
Charlotte (18), from Lymington, said: “Ethan and I had to build it and care for it. For months we have had to go up to Sparsholt to keep it going and it’s been completely nerve-racking.
“But it was a great experience, and we are just delighted to have won this medal.”
Ethan, who is now at university where he is studying a degree in plant science, was equally pleased, saying: “We were thrilled and surprised. It was a great experience to actually be part of the show, let alone win a medal.”
The exhibit was seen by several celebrities including comedians Bill Bailey and Lee Mack, Ellie Harrison and Tom Heap from Countryfile and radio DJ Jo Whiley.
They also met the president of the show organiser the Royal Horticultural Society, Keith Weed, who congratulated them on their display.
Ethan, who is also 18, from Hordle, honed his talents in Priestlands’ walled garden, where he said his teacher was a “huge influence”.
He had taken the school’s horticultural and animal management course, going on to take the equivalent of an A-level in horticulture at Sparsholt College.
Ethan said: “It was in the walled garden that I really became fascinated by the science of plants.”
He looks set for a bright future, having been awarded a merit by the Chartered Institute of Horticulture for his dissertation paper at Sparsholt.
Charlotte said her passion with all things green started while working at Everton Nurseries in Christchurch Road, where she now works full-time alongside her brother John.
This year she was awarded ‘Young Landscaper of the Year’ by the Bali Chalk Fund, which supports skills development in the landscape sector.
She said her work at the nursery had “inspired” her to take up gardening as a career, adding: “I just love everything about it.”
Toby Collyer, a director of the nursery, said everyone there was “very proud” of Charlotte. “She came to us through the day release scheme run by Sparsholt and she has really excelled here,” he said.
“We are delighted with her achievement at the Chelsea Flower Show and its nice that she is flying the flag for a family-run business in such a way.”