“How on earth did that get a gold?” by Mark Porter

Date(s) - 12/11/2015
19:30 - 21:30
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Rowledge Village Hall


Following an earlier visit by the club to ‘Down House’ when Mark Porter gave us all an introduction to his own garden and also a brief presentation on his role as RHS judge, this meeting gave us the opportunity to hear the whole story from Mark.

His talk was fascinating and richly illustrated with lots of photographs illuminating the points he made.

He described the rigorous process of judging, consisting of several stages during which individual gardens were assessed and scored in 9 key areas. He made the point that a difference in score of just one point could potentially make the difference between a silver-gilt and a gold. The addition or loss of that point could be solely attributed to one area in which the designer had missed something seemingly trivial (to him/her) such as the placement of a chair! What became clear is that the judging system was designed to be as rigorous as possible with its scoring method followed by several rounds of discussion and challenge.

To illustrate his talk he showed us examples of how particular gardens were marked down as well as those highly regarded in ‘Show Garden’ category. One interesting point that emerged in several examples were designs that at first sight looked, and indeed were, beautiful, but impractical as a garden. Examples being paths that just came to a dead end, and the complete lack of seating in one design, etc., etc.

Mark’s photographs gave us an overview of the various categories with examples of ‘howlers’. One particular examples that struck the author was the ‘pile of refrigerators’ that was supposed to be about recycling, yet those on display had not been ‘degassed’, a strict requirement prior to recycling. That said however, the planting of alpines in those refrigerators received good marks.

Overall a fascinating meeting, with Marks’ talk finishing with an extensive Q&A session that had to be brought to an end by the chairman. The evening finished finally with a vote of thanks to Mark. Speaking personally, it has encouraged me to brave Chelsea once more!

Alan Morris


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