Top award to Gardens team
The judges were divided, but for the second time since the Ellerslie Flower Show came to Christchurch the city council's Botanic Gardens team has won the Judges' Supreme Award.
The Hort Galore entry, Burn After Reading, also won the Supreme Design Award and a gold medal in its category - one of 15 awarded at this year's show.
Chief judge Andy Sturgeon said the panel of three judges was split on awarding the Supreme Award. Two voted for Burn After Reading, with the third voting for Laura McKenzie's floral art entry, double-gold medal winner The Secret Garden.
"It was very close," he said. "The rest of the judging is very precise, but this award, this is the one your heart goes into."
Burn After Reading was a small garden put together by the Christchurch Botanic Gardens team under the guidance of team leader Jeremy Hawker.
The team has a long history of success at Ellerslie having taken home a string of gold medals, and the Judges' Supreme Award in 2010.
This year's entry pitted fire against water and was themed around burning matches.
Sturgeon said the judging panel could find nothing wrong with the winning entry and liked it because it did not require a long-winded pamphlet to explain it.
Sally Brown won the Supreme Horticultural Excellence Award for her garden, Passion, which included more than 100 pink plant varieties.
Last year's top emerging designer, Bayley LuuTomes, won the Supreme Lighting Award and this year's Student Designer of the Year was Wintec graduate Jordan Hampson.
Six-time gold medal winner and 2012 People's Choice winner Ben Hoyle was awarded silver distinction this year.
Hoyle's garden, Under my Umbrella, recalled the feeling of sanctuary for the earthquake victims who rushed to Hagley Park for safety and were supported by those designers still setting up for the 2011 show.
The imported multi-coloured umbrellas lit up Hoyle's corner of the park and he was rewarded with the Supreme Construction Award.
Last year's Supreme Judges' Award and Supreme Design Award winner H&S Design collected a silver medal in its category and a silver distinction medal for lighting.
Only two gold medals were awarded to exhibition gardens - Emily McEwan's Outside the Box and Aaron and Vicky Bartlett's Sticks and Stones to Rest My Bones.
Both designs were first-time entries and were aimed at the backyard gardener.
In the new School Garden category, Tai Tapu Primary School, Lyttelton Main School, Chisnallwood Intermediate and West Eyreton School all won gold.
The show opens to the public today at 10am and thousands are expected to attend the first day.