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Hwang Jihae wins her third Chelsea Gold

Hwang Jihae holds her Chelsea Gold Medal at the entrance to her garden
photo credit: Vikki Rimmer

Congratulations to Hwang Jihae on winning her third Chelsea Gold Medal with her 2023 garden entitled “A Letter from a Million Years Past”. The medal was awarded early this morning, the day the show was opened to members of the Royal Horticultural Society. The show opens to the public on Wednesday.

Monday was Press Day, when the garden designers vie to create the best photo opportunities for the press photographers, with the aim of getting their garden onto the front page of the newspapers and magazines.

A flautist plays a bamboo flute while the garden deisnger makes tea. Both are dressed in hanbok
photo credit Ollie Dixon

Team Jihae created a charming pastoral scene, with daegeum player Hyelim Kim playing her bamboo flute in the upper part of the garden while Jihae brewed tea at the garden entrance.

In addition, designer Paul Smith turned up to visit the garden. He has been a supporter of Jihae for many years.

Paul Smith and Hwang Jihae sit together in the garden
photo provided by Hwang Jihae

That visit was planned. But a more prestigious visitor could not be planned, although the visit could be hoped for. Queen Camilla happens to be president of Maggie’s. the cancer charity which will receive donated plants from Jihae’s garden after the flower show. The Queen was aware of the connection, and thus might have been expected to walk past the garden when visiting the show with the King later in the afternoon.

Hwang Jihae and Jamie Butterworth greet the King
photo credit Ollie Dixon

But the King showed a keen interest in the garden too, and together with Jamie Butterworth (himself a 2022 Chelsea gold medallist, who led Jihae’s construction team this year) Jihae welcomed him into the garden and served him tea in the medicinal herb drying tower. The conversation clearly went well, with Jihae so touched that as the King left the garden she asked Butterworth whether it would be appropriate to give the King a hug – to which the advice was, obviously, no: it would be a breach of royal protocol. But the King partially overheard and enquired what Jihae had asked. The result was a photo opportunity that caught everyone by surprise:

King Charles hugs Jihae Hwang, with a smile on his face
photo credit Ollie Dixon

It was a special moment.

King Charles hugs Jihae Hwang, who has a lovely smile on her face
photo provided by Hwang Jihae

Other coverage from Press Day:

Other LKL coverage:

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