John strikes gold at Chelsea

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IT was a case of third time lucky for one super-talented gardener who has scooped top honours in an acclaimed national horticultural show.

John Peace has won a gold award after his impressive chrysanthemums were put on display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

It comes after the 55-year-old won a silver gilt last year and in 2011 for his colourful blooms. And as well as winning the gold, John and his team also excelled in every area of criteria, including colour and texture, overall impression, endeavour and originality/new ideas.

John, who is parks and facilities manager at Blackhall-based Monk Hesleden Parish Council, where he has worked for 19 years, said: “I’m absolutely delighted.

“We got the silver gilt last year and the year before, and this year we’ve got the elusive gold. I have been planning this for the past year and the past few months have been intense.”

John’s display features different-coloured chrysanthemums arranged in spherical form and at varying heights.

John Peace with his gold award-winning design at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

John Peace with his gold award-winning design at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

They were among 20 other entries in the Great Floral Marquee, which was visited by members of the Royal family.

John, who lives in Briardene Way, Easington Colliery, is promotions manager and National Chrysanthemum Champion with the National Chrysanthemum Society, bringing the bloom to the public’s attention.

The flowers were specially grown in Holland, as they only flower naturally in autumn.

John planned, designed and implemented the final piece, which is 10ft high and 26ft-long for the show, which is visited by around 160,000 people a year including royalty and celebrities.

He told the Mail in 2011 that his silver gilts were not enough and that he wanted gold.

John was helped by a team of volunteers from the chrysanthemum society to construct the display, which he says features “a really dynamic design where we used all our own props, including wrought iron, and local people from Easington got involved”.

John, who is married to Allyson, a 52-year-old medical representative for a pharmaceuticals company, and is dad to Antony, 33, and 22-year-old Daniel, said he would not be resting on his laurels now he had achieved the gold.

“We have got to keep it going and sustain it and keep doing it every year”, added John, who is granddad to five-year-old Millie Matthews. “We have set our precedent now.”

John, who says he has ideas in the pipeline already for next year’s show, was a miner at Easington pit for 17 years before being made redundant.

He then trained at Houghall College in Durham, before taking up his council job. His love of chrysanthemums followed a passion he shared with his father, John, who died from cancer seven years ago, aged 73.