A SMALL tree has proved to be a big success for a bonsai enthusiast.

Reg Bolton won a hat-trick of gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show last year and has been given a special award to commemorate his achievement.

At an awards ceremony in London, the Royal Horticultural Society presented Reg with the Holford medal on behalf of the Federation of British Bonsai.

Reg is the President of the Swindon and District Bonsai Society and all the trees, except three, which made up the display at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2010, were produced by members of the society.

He said he had largely stuck to last year’s winning design, which included English elm, different species of maple, white beech, cotoneasters and junipers, but made some alterations such as introducing different species of different trees.

The trees ranged from seven inches to three feet tall and, though the majority of the display came from three Swindon residents, it also included trees produced in Wales.

The Holford medal is awarded to the best exhibition by an individual or group of amateurs from all the RHS shows in the UK during 2010.

Reg, a retired social worker from Stratton, who took up tending bonsai trees in 1968, said: “One of the things we tried to do in our display last year was use trees grown by people here rather than importing Japanese trees.

“We have won a hat-trick of gold medals now which is pretty brilliant and reflects the work we have done. I feel very proud to pick up the award on the Swindon society’s behalf.

“Our stand is very different from anything else at the Chelsea Flower Show and we definitely stand out, which is one of the reasons why I think we won the award.

“We say less is more and we try to show off the good quality bonsai that can be grown by people at home.

“We want to dispel the myth that it is an expensive hobby. It’s just producing a tree in miniature that looks like a real tree in its natural state.

“Our current aim is to attract people into the hobby, particularly to the Swindon and District Bonsai Society.”

Reg said the award had been a team effort, as volunteers from the Swindon and District Bonsai Society helped to man the display alongside those from societies in Eastleigh and Wales.