The Chelsea Challenge

In January 2015 the AILDM Chelsea Challenge provided a unique opportunity for student members to enter a competition with the prize being to help create Charlie Albone’s garden for the Royal Horticultural Society's (RHS) Chelsea Flower & Garden show in 2015, further their skills in a truly unique learning experience, and have all their flights, accommodation and living expenses covered by the AILDM Travel Grant.

The winner, Emma Sloan, was annouced at AILDM's 20th Anniversary Celebration on 13 February, 2015

For Emma this was an opportunity to develop her skills alongside one of Australia’s leading and most recognised garden designers as he took on the RHS Chelsea Flower & Garden Show – and experience this amazing event for herself.

Charlie Albone had always dreamed of exhibiting a large show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower & Garden Show in London. In 2014 he volunteered his time to build an exhibit for Alan Titchmarsh. In 2015 he exhibited his own garden in a prime spot on the show ground. He had one more place available on his team of leading contractors, and as a long-standing AILDM member Charlie decided to share this experience with an Australian landscape design student.

My garden is inspired by my father, who died when I was 17 years old. The space is a garden to meet with him and tell him about my life since his passing. I have designed a space to celebrate life but to also be emotive and intimate. Each element of the garden means something to me – the path is wide so I can walk down it with my father and children hand in hand, the water feature empties to represent the feeling of life slipping away. The fire pit represents my wife and sandstone columns are my family and the important people in my life."

Charlie asked students to show him through landscape design what they are all about. They had a 10x10 metre space and complete free rein to impress him. They had to complete the design and then answer two short questions.The finalists attended a day at Alpine Nurseries where they met Charlie and undertook practical assignments to for the selection of the winner. 




  • Charlie
  • garden design
  • garden design