9 May 2013

Australia seeking glory at Chelsea Flower Show

7:40 am on 9 May 2013

The designer of the Australian garden at the Chelsea Flower Show wants to win the show's top award.

"This is completely different to anything ever showcased here at Chelsea," designer Phillip Johnson of Victoria told AAP. "We're going for it. We're trying to achieve ... the Best in Show."

The $A2 million display will combine several elements of Australian nature, with a strong focus on sustainability.

It is the ninth and final entry since 2004 for the team backed by Fleming's Nurseries.

Fleming's director Wes Fleming has promised his family this will be his last year but he hopes to go out with a bang by winning the top prize.

AAP reports Mr Johnson was selected to lead a team of 18 unpaid volunteers, with the project partially funded by sponsorships and donations.

The garden is taking shape with 10 days remaining and has already attracted plenty of hype.

Event organisers at the Royal Horticultural Society have allocated the team its largest and most prominent position within the showgrounds yet.

The Queen has requested the Flemings' garden be included in her tour of the show.

The design features a lush desert gorge with huge boulders, a native wildflower meadow and a natural billabong and waterfalls using recycled water from nearby buildings.

The piece de resistance is the "waratah studio", which towers over the garden and features a viewing area designed specifically for the Queen's eye height.

"It's free-formed, it's got really hard-core environmental messaging," Mr Johnson said.

"We're not going to be polishing the leaves, we're not going to be pruning the dead fern throngs because that's what occurs in nature."

"There will be people that will not like it, but I have had some extraordinary feedback."

AAP reports it will be competing against 14 other designs, including a garden supported by Prince Harry.

The show celebrates its centenary this year, with tickets selling out in record time.

"The Chelsea is regarded as the Olympics of horticulture, landscape design and landscape architecture," Mr Johnson said.