It's been a very exciting time in Garden Ninjas potting shed recently not only has the sun been beaming in Manchester making the garden buzz with colour, but I also had some news that I've won a national garden design competition! The RHS Feel Good Garden Competition. My garden 'Fancy a brew? Take a pew' was chosen as one of the winning entries.

I entered a National garden design competition with the RHS and BBC. The RHS Feel Good Garden competition. The brief was to design a ‘Feel good’ front garden taking inspiration from your local area. I had some fantastic news recently from the RHS that I had won and been chosen as one of the 4 winners to showcase my garden at the RHS Hampton Court Flower show in July 2016.

I was invited down to Chelsea flower show last Friday to be announced by Anne Marie-Powell and James Alexander Sinclair. It was an incredible day meeting some of the world’s top garden designers and the other competition winners from Bristol, Kent and Cornwall.

All four designs are very different but represent different aspects of the UK. Given the fact that I’m constantly blogging about the worrying concern that front gardens are often paved over or overlooked this is a brilliant chance to show you just what can be done in a front garden plot.

Fancy a Brew Garden Design

Planting before the Show

Final Show Garden

Fancy a brew Plant List

Lee Burkhill feel good garden winner

Fancy a brew? Take a pew Garden Design

My design titled ‘Fancy a brew? Take a pew’ symbolises a return to the good old-fashioned community days where neighbours would talk over front garden walls or sit on the front step with a brew putting the world to rights before tea time. I wanted to create a front garden that would help people reconnect with that sense of community rather than rushing in through the front door as soon as they return from say a busy day at work.

Fancy a brew take a pew Garden Lee Burkhill Manchester

Manchester has a rich heritage with its industrial roots and community spirit, which I have captured in my design. I’ve taken elements, such as reclaimed sleepers and cobbles, which are sustainable, to reflect the past industries of Manchester and provide texture to the garden.

The cobbles represent the community and are well known from Coronation Street in Manchester. The raised beds near the door feature built in benches to show the neighbourly feel of Manchester terraced housing, where neighbours would pop their heads over the fence and ask ‘Fancy a brew?’. I wanted to design a garden that would promote the simple act of speaking to your neighbour and ‘having a brew’ with them.

The middle section of the garden uses a water feature from the raised beds. It contains cobbles, which can reflect either a dried canal or shipyard. The water feature adds the relaxing sound of flowing water, often heard near our canals. Within this section there is a bog garden, to help act as a soakaway for rain off the path and featuring Iris ‘Yellow Flag’.

The first area features perennial grasses with plenty of height. These will give the feel of movement and texture in the garden. Like the canal tow paths where wild seeded grasses grow or around industrial factories. The zig-zag path diverts the eye so you cannot see the entire garden from the pavement giving some privacy.

The colour theme is vibrant yellow and the Rudbeckia, Crocosmia & Leucanthemella are bee friendly flowers to encourage wildlife. The plants and grasses give winter structure and seeds for birds, making them sustainable choices. They also help provide ground cover to suppress weeds, removing the need for herbicides. The bright yellow represents the feel good factor of a warm summer’s day.

Plan view of fancy a brew take a pew

Garden ninja lee burkhill chelsea

Lee Burkhill at Chelsea Flower Show

Planting Updates June 2016

So Garden Ninja and Sandstone Designs have been incredibly busy in the run up to Hampton court flower show constructing the hard landscaping before planting week starts. It’s been al hands on deck to get the garden finished on time.

Here are some sneak peak pictures of the progress to date of the RHS Feel Good Garden in progress. I’ll be blogging about the process after the show but here’s some snapshots!

Garden ninja building at hampton 1Fancy a brew take a pew cobbles 2
Feel good garden cobbles 1 Feel good garden construction 1 Garden ninja selecting plants at hortus Fancy a brew take a pew construction 2 Feel good garden ninja winner at hortus loci Fancy a brew take a pew garden in construction

Hampton Court Opens for Garden Ninja

After a hard week of single-handedly planting all of my 300 and so plants and spending all of Sunday tweaking, polishing and pruning my garden to perfection, the press day was upon us.

Press day at Hampton is probably the busiest of days as a garden designer. Not only are the national, and local news channels filming but celebrities stream in to see the latest gardens. Sue Biggs, the Director General for the RHS sat in my garden and had a chat with me about the upcoming RHS Bridgewater garden in Manchester. Jo Whiley stopped in for a brew along with Adam Frost a Gold Award winning designer who said he thought I was the man to watch and I should ‘Quit that job in IT’. Monty Don gave his thumbs up saying the garden was lovely.

Lee Burkhill & Monty Don

It’s been a crazy week so far with so much positive feedback about the Manchester design. I’ll keep this post updated.

Fancy a brew take a pew hampton court garden Lee Burkhill and David Domoney Lee burkhill and Jo whiley at Hampton court Lee Burkhill and Julia Bradbury

Fancy a Brew Plant list 

Calamagrostis stricta ‘Karl Foester’
Nepeta govaniana
Aster radular ‘August sky’
Festuca amethystina
Anstrantia major ‘Snow storm’
Sangisorba tenuifolia
Pennisitum ‘Orientale’
Melica altissima alba
Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Garnet Schist’
Verbena bonariensis
Echinacea ‘Hot Lava’
Echinacea ‘Big Kahuna’
Hellenium flammendes
Echinacea ‘Hot Summer’
Hellenium moerheim ‘Beauty’
Sangisorba officinalis ‘Tanna’
Alchemilla mollis
Juncus effusus
Echinacea ‘Tikki Torch’
Myrtus communis

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7 thoughts on “RHS Feel Good Garden Winner

  1. Mark Risley says:

    Hi Lee, I saw your garden design n in the local press. It looks fantastic, as a fellow Mancunian the design really speaks to me about my life in Manchester. I won’t be at hampton but will look out for you on TV to see the garden when its done. Great!

  2. Sarah Flynn says:

    Any more updated photos? Well done so far

    1. lee says:

      Hey Sarah. I’ve a few more I’ll be updating next week. We start planting on Tuesday so it should realy take shape then! Keep checking back to see the updates. All the best. Lee

  3. Wow oh wow, well done you! Cant wait to see the final product! We will be at the show on Wednesday and will look out for you and maybe ‘have a brew and take a pew’!!! Good luck, hope the weather is kind to you!

    1. lee says:

      Hi Amelia!

      It was great to see you at Hampton court flower show. Really glad you liked fancy a brew take a pew. Can’t wait to see how the planting at Pateley bridge riverside comes along. Must have that glass of wine soon!


  4. Jen Dening says:

    Hi Lee,
    Finally found pictures of your garden here. Sorry you didn’t win overall, but I guess you will have had a great time nevertheless.
    Jen D (garden design course)

    1. lee says:

      Hey Jen!

      They didn’t run the people’s choice award for our gardens as the judges said the designs were so different it wouldn’t be fair to compare them. So we all kind of won in the end! We got some great judges feedback which was that they could have held their own with the silver guilt winners in the main show gardens which was great!

      The feedback from the public was brilliant they loved the meadow planting and industrial hard landscaping. Thanks for getting in touch and I’ll be posting more pics soon!


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