*all photos copyright Todd Haiman unless otherwise noted
*all photos copyright Todd Haiman unless otherwise noted
"CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW"
Having returned from the Chelsea Flower Show, I must admit it just gets better every year. Cleve West’s sunken Roman garden won best in show, Diarmuid Gavin theatrics stopped traffic, and my personal favorite garden was Luciano Guibbilei’s for his serene and elegant Laurent Perrier garden.
Show gardens (at Chelsea) are proposed to the Royal Horticultural Society almost a year before the actual show and are either accepted or denied. For sheer uniqueness there was the artisanal Hae-Woo-Soo garden, which I led on about last month. The Hae Woo So garden was one that stretched the boundaries of the “British proper.” One person on the acceptance committee mentioned to me “we knew it would either be extraordinary or be an embarrassment.” Thankfully, the garden was exemplary and honored with a gold medal.
According to Jihae Hwang, who designed the garden, this conceptual landscape refers to a place where you “empty your mind.” According to ancient Korean tradition visiting the lavatory (the trip to it) is traditionally regarded as a cathartic experience, a way to spiritually cleanse one’s mind and reconnect with nature through a “natural cycle” -- the physical act that accompanies it. The focal point of the garden is an elegant wooden dunny (an outhouse). The lintel is low, forcing one to bow as you enter, humbling oneself. Typically the wooden building (the latrine) serves a dual purpose in that the human waste is left to ferment, creating fertilizer.
Stipa tenuissima, Paeonia lactiflora and Lonicera japonica embrace a stone wall
A washbasin filled with rainwater to cleanse one's hands
In romantic disorder, plants are arranged along the path to “the throne.” Small, highly scented lilacs, Syringa wolfii and Syringa dilatata and Lonicera japonica (Honeysuckle) aid in perfuming the air surrounding the latrine.
**all photos ©Todd Haiman 2014
Queen Mary (in white) viewing the Chelsea show
As written in past years, I have an annual pilgrimage during the third week of May "across the Pond" to the Chelsea Flower Show in London. Here is a bit of context and history about what is referred to as "the Great Spring show.
England had been compared to a garden since at least the time of Shakespeare. This metaphor took on particular significance in the Victorian Era as it infiltrated visual, literary, and everyday culture in England. The garden came to represent two things for the English in the Victorian era: home in the face of a massive Empire, and stability in the face of industrialization and a perceived disintegration of society.
English citizens were spread across the globe, (see past post on Rudyard Kipling) and began to seek a symbol that would unify those at home, and that would serve as a memory of home for those in their colonies. This image was particularly significant during the Victorian Era as England expanded her empire and influence across the globe.
The English landscape garden is considered by some cultural historians England's most compelling contribution to the visual arts. During the eighteenth century, as England struggled to develop a national identity, the landscape garden was a continual source of pride to landowners, artists, poets and gardeners alike. Botanical Gardens were established in most major towns and many royal estates were opened to the public.
London Bobby (policeman) admiring floral displays
Women in 1940's reading the show's catalog
It is in the next generation, between the wars, that the English become routinely described--by themselves and by other Europeans--as "a nation of gardeners." This extended to middle- and lower-middle-class suburbanites, whose terraced and semi-detached houses and gardens offered certain elements in common with the grander country houses of the elitist classes.
The show, which ultimately grew out of this “religious zeal” was organized by the Royal Horticultural Society and has been a staple of the British social and cultural scene for nearly 150 years. This annual spring festival is held for five days each May and features designed gardens, a large variety of exotic plants and all the accoutrements, trappings and revelry of a great fair. The event is held on the grounds of London's Royal Hospital, and it is perhaps the most celebrated show of it’s kind.
Crowds in 1950 swarming the show
“In 1862, London's Royal Horticultural Society held its first Great Spring Show. The show was held in Kensington and featured an array of exotic plant species from around the world. Each year until 1888, the RHS continued with this annual event, gradually building up a loyal audience. In 1913 they decided to use the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, which had hosted several successful rose exhibitions. The show at the Royal Hospital became known as the Chelsea Flower Show, though it is still officially named the Great Spring Show. From 1913 through 1916, the fair enjoyed unprecedented success. By 1917, World War I had devastated much of the region, and the fair was canceled for two years. In the 1920s, London's royal family began to visit the fair each year, starting a new tradition that continues to this day. Also during this time, the Chelsea tea parties began. These parties take place during the show and are a major draw for Britain's social and political leaders. The show was canceled again for several years during World War II. In 1947, though crops and supplies were limited, the Chelsea Flower Show was held as scheduled, and it became a symbol of the country's strength and determination to rebuild. By 1979, the show was so popular that crowds began to overwhelm the limited space. Throughout the next few years, ticket limits were set and attendance was restricted to help prevent injuries to attendees. Despite ticket limits, crowds continued to overwhelm the show until 1993, when parts of the show were relocated to other venues. Today, more than 150,000 visitors attend the show each year. All attendees must purchase tickets in advance, and the show holds an annual preview day specifically for the royal family and other honored guests. The BBC shows much of the event on television each year, to allow those who can't get tickets to take part in the experience. The Chelsea Flower Show is considered a place to spot the latest trends in floral and horticultural design, and it is eagerly attended by industry professionals and garden enthusiasts from around the world.”
previous five images of celebrities from bigpictures.com
1 -reprinted from RHS Show catalog
With an eye toward sustainable solutions, Nigel Dunnett, Adrian Hallam and Chris Arrowsmith presented an atypical garden at Chelsea last year… one that is both educational and creative in it’s approach. The “Future Nature” garden looks to a future for landscapes and gardens in a changing and unpredictable climate. This garden presents a number of practical solutions that can be used to create a new type of drought-resistant urban garden especially suited to underutilized city spaces. Its central message is, that by using a combination of any of the garden’s features coupled with careful plant selection, anybody, using simple planting methods and avoiding irrigation except with stored rainwater, can create a colorful and naturalistic garden. It aims to both help alleviate pressure on the urban drainage infrastructure in wet weather and maximize the use of water during increasingly dry summer months.
The central idea to this garden is water.... In the northern hemisphere, due to the rotation of the earth about its polar axis water flows down holes n a clockwise direction. Check the sink or toilet, next time you go to the loo!! Henceforth this landscape design is expressed in a spiral, clockwise direction.
Green roof - The colorful flowering green roof acts like a sponge, absorbing half of all the rainfall that falls on it, reducing the rate of stormwater run-off after heavy rainfall. A mixture of sedums are chosen to withstand the harsh exposed conditions found on rooftops and provide a rich source of nectar for visiting insects on what would otherwise be a sterile and lifeless surface. Well known are the benefits of green roofs - in addition to stormwater retentions and providing wildlife habitats, they also provide social benefits, improve air quality, modify urban micro-climates, provide insulation against heat and sound within the building and increase the life expectancy of the roof, and in some municipalities provide property tax credits and assist toward leed certification.
Together with the stormwater planter this series of small pools collect any excess rainwater that leaves the green roof. The water passes thru a series of what is represented as small pools through upright growing aquatic plants that help to clean and purify the water before it spills into the rill (small channel). The rill is designed to be attractive when not filled with water.
The line of the green roof flows in a spiral round o the pools and then via the rill to the central pool and vertical garden tower.The spiral is found in many cultures as a symbol of life and eternity.... a fitting form for a garden that aims to prolong the life of plants and addresses the pathway to a sustainable future by managing water, the source of life.
Key features of the garden include: a green roof to help reduce surface water runoff as well as enhancing biodiversity; storm water planters and pools to retain water from the roof; a living tower holding drought-resistant plants; butterfly mounds and insect towers stocked with colorful but drought-resistant planting that provide wildlife habitats in a brownfield environment.
Vertical Garden Tower - Full of intricate detail, composed of stacked and reclaimed materials.
Space for plant material, insects and other wildlife to find shelter and homes.
Unlike many “living walls” this also encompasses which require large amounts of water, this vertical garden is not dependent upon continuous irrigation.
Wild Flower Meadow - a designed and stylized version of the cosmopolitan mix of native and non-native plants that colonize urban wasteland sites and can be hotspots for the wildlife that grazes on the native species.
Stormwater Basins - Excess rainwater that leaves the green roof either falls directly into the stormwater planter, which absorbs further waste or drains into the collecting pools. The planting will tolerate being inundated with water, but will also withstand long periods of drier conditions. Stormwater basins can be used where rains lack the capacity to deal with all the run-offs from private property.
Like many gardens at Chelsea this garden was relocated to Yorkshire after the show and through its use continues to promote the inventive use of small urban spaces and water management.