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University Centre Shrewsbury shows how the west was won

Friday, August 11, 2017
Professor Tim Wheeler, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester and Angela Bell, who designed the garden.

University Centre Shrewsbury (UCS) was today (Friday August 11) awarded a gold medal for the second year running at the highly-respected Flower Show in the town.

Entitled ‘The Good, The Bad and The Shrubbery’, the UCS exhibit is a quirky twist on the Shropshire Horticultural Society’s show garden theme of ‘Buffalo Bill and the Wild West,’ which marks the showman’s tour dates in Shropshire during the early 1900s. It also pays homage to the influential spaghetti Western, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

UCS’s interpretation of the theme, combining modern and traditional landscaping, makes reference to:

  • how untamed elements of Shropshire’s border country might encounter America’s frontier lands in a cultivated space;
  • how pioneers take many forms, from Col William F Cody, who helped develop tourism as we now know it and brought his brand of entertainment to new territories, to the first undergraduates to settle in Shrewsbury and educational innovators and researchers at UCS;
  • how humour and inventiveness help us navigate life’s unpredictability.

The garden’s planting scheme blends species from both North America and the UK, with ornamental and common grasses evoking prairies and meadows. The shrubbery of the title is brought to life with colourful flower varieties associated with cottage gardens.

Shropshire itself is represented by the photographic backdrop of the Salopian Stiperstones (resembling an American ridge) and the ferns and heathers which are native to the area. The path meandering through the garden echoes the River Severn’s journey through Shrewsbury. The ‘cartoon’ world of the Buffalo Bill annual is shown by the moss-filled chicken wire sculpture of buffalo horns and saguaro-style cacti.

A ranch-style fence corrals the garden and the wooden porch, with its ‘Grand Bug Hotel’ log pile for insects, being designed to appear as though Wild West fans old and young have been relaxing after a hard day in the garden.

Visitors to the two-day Show are invited to do ‘selfies,’ posing with a ‘Wanted’ poster and have their picture taken as Buffalo Bill at the UCS trade stand in Gloucester Avenue at Shrewsbury Quarry. There, they can also discover more about how they can get involved in higher education, from studying at the institution to coming to one of the free public lectures and discussions. Next term these cover topics as wide-ranging as Bob Dylan, economic growth, how poetry can be both public and private, JRR Tolkien’s idea of home and JK Rowling as a publishing phenomenon.

Professor Anna Sutton, Provost of UCS, said: “We are proud and privileged to have won a gold medal for the second year in succession and I am extremely grateful to the imaginative team at University Centre Shrewsbury (UCS) and the University of Chester, which has brought the concept for the garden to life so brilliantly.

“Shrewsbury Flower Show is such a vital part of the civic calendar and it is important to us to have been part of it every year since UCS came into being. This year’s theme was a testing choice, but we relish a challenge and hope everyone enjoys the results. Credit is due to some rather creative thinking by the team at UCS and the University of Chester.

“In addition to seeing our award-winning garden, visitors to the Show can find out more about the diverse range of subjects we offer – including for the first time and appropriately enough, Horticulture courses, in conjunction with University Centre Reaseheath.”

Angela Bell, who designed the garden, added: “As this is the second time I have been invited to create a design for the Shrewsbury Flower Show, I would like to think it is because I am doing something right. It certainly gives me another chance to do two things I really enjoy: gardening and design.

“Another passion I have is for all things horse-related, quite possibly spurred on by my childhood diet of TV Westerns. On hearing the theme for this year’s Show, I surprised even myself when I discovered I knew far more about Buffalo Bill and the Wild West than I ever imagined.

“2017 has given me a further opportunity to work alongside some very talented people again for University Centre Shrewsbury at this lovely Show.”

Established by the University of Chester and Shropshire Council, UCS is a distinctive institution, focused on high-quality teaching and research, fostering entrepreneurship and contributing to the community.

It offers a wide choice of courses across a number of disciplines and specialised facilities at the main learning and research site at Guildhall in Frankwell Quay, at the historic Rowley’s House, together with its student accommodation at nearby Mardol House.

To find out more about UCS, visit www.ucshrewsbury.ac.uk, call 01743 297185 or email enquiries@ucshrewsbury.ac.uk.