For anyone under 30, the Young Horticulturist of the Year (YHOY) competition is a fantastic opportunity to explore an interest in horticulture, test knowledge, and get the opportunity to network with horticultural enthusiasts all over the UK and Ireland. We meet thousands of horticulturists every year, 2500 in 2017 alone, as they battle their way through three challenging rounds.
The first recorded national final was held in 1990 at Writtle College in Essex. The competition could not exist without the Shropshire Horticultural Society (SHS) who organise the Fantastic Shrewsbury Flower show every year. The SHS fund a large proportion of the competition and in particular the £2,500 travel bursary awarded to the winner each year. The funds come from a trust set up in honour of Percy Thrower. Percy was known to many as the first ever celebrity gardener and is recognised for his time on BBC Gardeners World from 1969 to 1976.
Percy will always remain strongly connected Shrewsbury and the SHS after his time working as the Parks Superintendent. In 1951 on behalf of the SHS he was asked to design a garden in Berlin on the lines of an English garden in conjunction with the Berlin Superintendent of Parks, Herr Witte.
The competition is free to enter and open to any horticulturist below the age of 30 on 31 July 2018. We will be taking entries for the 2018 competition from October 2017. The competition is run in three phases, the heats, the regional finals and the national final.
Find out more about the different phases of the competition below
The heats take place in January and February and are based on multiple choice questions, covering a wide range of horticultural topics. The heats are held mostly at colleges accross the UK where entrants will be presented a presentation of 40 multiple choice questions, with four alternative answers.
Each heat rewards 1st prize with £50, 2nd with £30 and 3rd £20. The heats are organised by our team of eight regional organisers who are CIH members.
You can enter from October 2017 for the the 2018 competition.
Heat winners then go forward to one of eight Regional Finals held in March. The Regional Finals also include 40 multiple choice questions as well as two identification rounds and eight additional rounds on specific areas of horticulture. Some of which are directed at the individual contestants, which are on a buzzer system, to test out the speed of thinking as well as the depth of knowledge.
These finals are held at a wide variety of locations from botanical gardens to RHS properties and well known horticultural colleges.
Each regional final rewards 1st place with £150, 2nd receives £100 and 3rd £75 as well as additional prizes provided by regional sponsors.
The winner of each Regional Final progresses to the Grand Final held held in May. The format is the same as the previous round,with questions covering all sectors of horticulture. The winner of the Final receives the £2,500 Percy Thrower Travel Bursary, provided by the Shropshire Horticultural Society, Percy Thrower Trust, to fund a horticultural trip anywhere in the world. Second place winner goes home with £950, 3rd with £550 and the rest of the runners up all receive £200, all to be used in any way they wish.
Previous winners have visited Borneo, China, New Zealand, South Africa, the Himalayas, and the Galapagos Islands to name just a few!
We asked Jess Evans, 2015 champion, a few questions about the competition.
You were the winner of the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition 2015, what affect did that have? On your confidence and your career?
It boosted my confidence no end which in itself helps your career. I didn’t ever think I would get near to achieving that and wasn’t convinced my memory would be able to work that fast. I did enjoy the experience looking back, but found it very nerve wracking on the day!
What would you say to someone who is thinking about entering the competition next year?
Don’t over think the questions and just have a go, its an opportunity to meet other people in the industry and to learn about areas in horticulture you may not know anything about. As well as an opportunity for the trip of a life time.
Our 2017 Young Horticulturist of the Year national sponsors
We are indebted to all of our sponsors; our national sponsors are The Shropshire Horticultural Society, who are the major sponsors of the competition, as well as MorePeople and the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) who all generously provide sponsorship throughout the duration of the competition. There are also many fantastically generous regional sponsors behind the scenes supporting our heats and regional finals.
Lachlan Rae now has his opportunity to plan how he will spend his £2,500 during his extended visit to Australia and possibly Tasmania.
The competition was covered by BBC Shropshire’s Paul Shutterworth. After the competition when asked where he would like to see himself in the future, Lachlan replied "Looking towards the future I could quite happily see myself in a television gardening role’"It would be fantastic to see Lachlan following in the footsteps of Percy Thrower, taking inspiration from Britain’s first celebrity gardener.
Lachlan Rae, 2017 YHOY Winner