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South Africa won its 36th top medal at the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show in London earlier this week

The new design team for the Kirstenbosch-South Africa exhibit in the Great Pavilion at the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show have bagged their first gold medal. Award-winning designer Leon Kluge and his team were delighted with the news on Tuesday morning.

“It was an experience compared to none other representing South Africa at the world’s most prestigious flower show,” Kluge said from London.

“Winning an award is an added bonus. My team and I hope we have made South Africa proud and that we have convinced many people here in Europe to visit our magnificent and diverse country.”

Read: Chelsea Flower Show: 2018’s best designs in pictures

           New design team for Chelsea exhibit

           Chelsea glory for SA

Earlier this year, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) revealed that David Davidson and Raymond Hudson, designers of the exhibit for 24 consecutive years, were passing on the baton to a new design team. Eighteen of the exhibit’s gold medals were received under the guidance of Davidson and Hudson.

Succulents from across South Africa’s arid region were incorporated in the South Africa exhibit. Picture: Supplied

The latest gold medal brings to 36 the total number of gold medals the South Africa-Kirstenbosch exhibit has received over 43 years. Other prestigious awards received include the Lindley Medal in 1989, the Anthony Huxley Trophy in 1995 and the RHS President’s Award last year.

Sanbi board chairperson Nana Magomola and chief executive Dr Moshibudi Rampedi are with the design team in London. They thanked the team for the superb job they had done in presenting South Africa’s unique biodiversity to the world.

“Our team has presented many facts of the beauty and diversity of South Africa’s floral kingdom and cultures,” said Dr Rampedi.

Award-winning design

“South Africa is a treasure-house of iconic landscapes,” said Sarah Struys, events manager at Kirstenbosch NBG.

“They abound in nature and the natural environment but also in the cultural landscapes that contain and define them.”

Team Kirstenbosch. Sanbi board chairperson Nana Magomola holds the gold medal alongside Lihle Dlamini, left, and Dr Moshibudi Rampedi, Sanbi chief executive, right. Picture: John Cole-Morgan

The theme for the exhibit is Iconic Landscapes.

Kluge’s design was inspired after he visited an area in Khayelitsha. While photographing arum lilies, he had coffee at Lookout Hill and was inspired by the view of Table Mountain, with the houses of Khayelitsha in the foreground blending in with the landscape of indigenous flora. He then saw this blend of nature and culture depicted in the colourful creations of local crafters. Elmon Muringani, a local crafter, was invited to create the artwork that forms the backdrop of the exhibit.

The exhibit starts in Cape Town and Table Mountain National Park, then travels northwards along the West Coast with its different vegetation of succulent forms and the architectural styles along the coast. It then moves north to Limpopo, Gauteng and Mpumulanga, with its own unique and diverse flora.

Along with the popular fynbos species of proteas, pincushions and arum lilies, other plants used in the exhibit are Medusa’s head (Euphorbia caput-medusae), living stones (Lithops spp.), horse teeth (Haworthia truncata), Freesia spp. and klipmelkbossie (Euphorbia schinzii).

Winning gardens

After a busy wedding weekend, members of the royal family toured the Chelsea Flower Show on Monday. The 92-year-old monarch, Queen Elizabeth, was accompanied by her daughter, Princess Anne. Princess Beatrice visited the show earlier in the day with her father, Prince Andrew.

There are 10 show gardens and 16 smaller gardens on display at the 105th Chelsea Flower Show. The show boasts a new layout and has included a new category, Space to Grow, with eight gardens to view. The Morgan Stanley Garden for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, designed by Chris Beardshaw, won the coveted Best in Show award.

The Trailfinders South African Wine Estate garden received a silver-gilt award at the Chelsea Flower Show in the show gardens category. Picture: RHS/Neil Hepworth

One of the show gardens with special significance for Capetonians is the Trailfinders South African Wine Estate garden, designed by Jonathan Snow. The garden received a silver-gilt award and features a traditional Cape Dutch homestead with a number of the country’s iconic plants, including agapanthus, kniphofias, gladioli and pelargoniums. Beyond the romantic garden is a vineyard and beyond that, a beautiful fynbos landscape.

Of special interest to South Africans is the British Council Garden, India: A Billion Dreams, which draws inspiration from India’s love of cricket and the hopes and dreams of the country’s youth.

The garden received a silver-gilt award.

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