A BRANSGORE-based garden designer is celebrating winning a silver medal at Chelsea Flower Show.

Helen Elks-Smith won the gong with a garden aimed at raising awareness of tree pest Oak Processionary Moth (OPM).

OPM poses a serious human and animal health risk because of its poisonous hairs, which can trigger skin irritation and asthma.

Her garden was described by the BBC’s Chelsea Flower Show programme as a “beautiful piece of work with a poignant message”.

Ms Elks-Smith’s garden was sponsored by the City of London Corporation, which manages 11,000 acres of green space including Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest. OPM has been found close to its seven City Commons sites in South London.

She said: “The idea for this garden was a personal, artistic response to the distressing news of OPM threatening our oaks.

“As a generation we need to ensure that we don’t look back and regret our inaction. We have the expertise; we just need to ensure that we act.”

Sue Ireland, director of green spaces at the City of London Corporation, said: “I’d like to thank Helen for helping us raise the profile of this issue.

“There's a real opportunity to effectively control and even eradicate OPM, so it's important for green spaces providers to work together and tackle this issue head on.

“The outcome of the partnership control work, led by the Forestry Commission, during 2013 is that across London we had half the nests this year that we had last year.”