Choking with emotion, the 52-year-old designer put the win down to the “military precision” of his team and some early flowering parsnips from his allotment.
His only sadness was that his mother, who died last year, is not around to see his triumph.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “I’ve worked with an amazing team and The Daily Telegraph have been great in giving me my freedom.
“The sculpture is based on the Roman ruins in Libya - it’s a magical place and it just makes what is happening there now more sad.
“I added the parsnips as a bit of a novelty but they actually flowered early and really added to the garden.
“My mum would would have liked to have been here.”
The Daily Telegraph is the first sponsor in the Chelsea Flower Show's 149 year history to win three years in a row after Andy Sturgeon won last year and Ulf Nordfjell in 2009.
Joanna Fortnam, gardening editor, put the win down to a combination of choosing the nursery men from Crocus and Mr West.
“Cleve has won a couple of golds at Chelsea and I saw that he was ready to go that extra mile. I knew he had it in him and with Crocus he could win Best in Show.
“It is the best garden he has ever done. The sunken garden is calming and the family of plants he used really stretches the imagination and is beautiful to look at."
She said that the judges saw the serenity in a show full of mad designs, such as Diarmuid Gavin’s flying garden and B&Q’s giant tower.
“There has been a lot of bling and attention-seeking at Chelsea and that is fantastic and that is what people want at Chelsea. But the judges generally come down on the side of something that just flows, that is tranquil, that people just want to step into.”
Garden designer Cleve West cools off after a busy day building The Daily Telegraph's show garden at Chelsea [Photo: Martin Pope]
There was disappointment this year for old-timers Luciano Giubbilei and Bunny Guinness, who were both hotly tipped.
But in the end the golden sunken garden by Mr West stood out against the other designs.
The winning garden bucked the trend by taking the visitor into an intimate space surrounded by warm yellow walls and whispering trees.
Higher up the three 10ft high columns by French artists Serge Bottagisio and Agnès Decoux, with one lying on the ground, appear to be ruins but in fact mix the old and new in concrete and terracotta.
However, it is the jewel-like colour scheme of scarlet, yellow and silvers, including those parsnips, that make the garden glow with life.
Mr West has been described as the ‘Heston Blumenthal of gardening’ for his creative flair and he uses it to mix unusual plants while allowing them to grow in a pattern that looks like it could be self-seeded.
Overall the effect is to bring together the vitality of the plants with a sense of history and permanence in the sculptures in what has been labelled a new modern classic.