Verdant Visions Wins Best in Show and Third Gold Medal at Chelsea Flower Show 

James Whiting has done it again! His stunning ‘Verdant Visions’ houseplant studio exhibit has won Best in Show and a gold medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to add to his haul of awards.

This achievement recognises his talent and passion for indoor plant scaping which was inspired by his family’s green-fingered past. 

Credit: Kelsie Irvine

A Tribute to Gardening Ancestors 

James Whiting drew inspiration for his award-winning exhibit from his grandparents, especially his grandmother, who was a “guerrilla gardener.” His nostalgic connection to plants shines through in every aspect of ‘Verdant Visions’.

“I have amazing memories of my grandparents growing tropical plants in every corner of their flat—it just shows that even living in an urban space can’t stop people with passion and know-how. Thanks to my sponsor, Findmypast, I’ve discovered that my family’s connections to plants run deep.” 

Research into James’ family history revealed 250 years of the family cultivating the land in Dorset and Kent, with many of his ancestors coming from the village of ‘Leaves Green’. 

Plants can offer a powerful connection to our past, unlocking treasured childhood memories and gardening know-how passed down the generations. This is why the partnership with Findmypast for this exhibit is so serendipitous as the family history website specialises in connecting people to family stories that shape and inspire them. 

The 70s Time Slip House Plant Studio 

James’ ‘Verdant Vision’ exhibit takes visitors back to the 1970s, an era when houseplants were at their peak of popularity. His innovative design reimagines classic houseplants and gives with a contemporary and captivating twist.  

On the covered deck of the Studio Pavilion sits a dreamy four-poster bed, seemingly floating on a botanical sea. Floor-to-ceiling glazing floods the foliage-filled dressing room with light, inviting you to play some old vinyl on the 70s audio equipment while you get ready for a night at the disco. And no 70s House Plant Studio would be complete without an avocado bathroom suite in the side shed turned disco ensuite.  

There really is no missing ‘Verdant Vision’ on the plateau in Ranelagh Gardens, painted in a bold shade of orange with a red interior. A clock on the gable end spins anti-clockwise, setting the scene for a time-traveling exhibit. 

James’ passion for storytelling through plants, interior design, and music is evident throughout the exhibit. He aims to reignite a love for retro houseplants that are sometimes overlooked in favour of flashier new varieties. Mirror ball clouds filled with spider plants certainly go a long way in giving these classic houseplants a comeback. 

 “Partnering with Findmypast to create this immersive space has opened doors to a wealth of intriguing information. Their extensive archive has enabled me to gain real insight into the 70s, allowing me to recreate moments from the decade of disco, flares, and spider plants.” 

The studio also incorporates iconic moments clipped from Findmypast’s vast historical newspaper collection, charting the events that defined the decade. Visitors can explore these moments online for free in a special collection on Findmypast’s website – or even take their own nostalgia-fuelled trip down memory lane and create a scrapbook of simpler times. 

Celebrating our Nation of Gardeners  

This Houseplant Studio is a celebration of the gardening legacy passed down through generations. Findings of new research by Findmypast, reveal that we are a nation of gardeners. One in four of us have green-fingered ancestors, with 25% of UK family trees containing at least one professional gardener. Passion for plants is inherited, with 32% of family trees showing gardeners continuing over two or more consecutive generations.  

James Whiting’s ‘Verdant Vision’ is a triumph of horticultural excellence inspired by his family’s gardening past, James has created an exhibit that not only celebrates the 70s houseplant boom but also showcases the timeless appeal of greenery in our lives. Congratulations to James on his awards and we hope you are inspired by the verdant vision he has brought to life. 

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