HAMPSHIRE’S top gardeners have scooped awards at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Winchester’s Sparsholt College was among those celebrating, after their display not only won a gold award, but was also crowned best Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) discovery exhibit.

A team of 21 horticultural students have spent nine months preparing the garden, entitled Paper Chase, which shows how paper cups can be recycled into compost which could be used to grow more trees.

The college has won six gold medals, three silver-gilts, four silver and three bronze medals at the show since 1998.

Lecturer Chris Bird, who led the student team, said: “This is a worldclass event and for Sparsholt College to be exhibiting amongst the gardening greats is always thrilling. The team have worked very hard over the last nine months and for their huge efforts to result in a gold medal and to be the best discovery exhibit is absolutely tremendous – how better for these students to start their horticultural careers than as proud RHS Chelsea medal winners?”

Meanwhile, Hillier Nurseries, who have already been crowned the show’s most successful exhibitor, swooped their 69th consecutive gold award for their exhibit inspired by the history of the Romsey nurseries to mark their 150th anniversary.

Managing director Andrew McIndoe said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have won gold in our 150th anniversary year. This year is a huge milestone for Hillier and winning our 69th consecutive gold is a fantastic recognition of the skills, expertise and dedication of everyone at Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres.

“Hillier’s Chelsea exhibit is actually a series of smaller gardens, inspired by the history of Hillier but given a contemporary twist. It is packed with ideas and planting schemes that today’s gardeners could recreate in their own gardens.”

Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres also clinched plant of the year after entering a hydrangea macrophylla ‘Miss Saori”.

The exhibits will be on display to the public until Friday.