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.
As a non-Brit I tend to postulate the Chelsea Flower Show evolved from a long love affair with landscape, gardening and horticulture -- a cultural institution ingrained in a country's tradition.
The English landscape has been influenced by the many different groups of people that have inhabited the land. Medieval developments in England were typically centered around the residential environment.
During the 17th century ideas from Italy and France were incorporated into the English landscape on a small scale. With it, new ideas for special relationships and man’s relationship to his environment appeared. According to Geoffrey Jellicoe “….nature was no longer subservient to man, but a friendly and equal partner, irregularity rather than regularity was proclaimed the objective of landscape design.” The concept of Palladianism, real or fabricated ruins, themes, allegories, symbols were brought back to the English Landscape by their wealthy and educated owners, who idealized their country as the new Rome.
It was not until the early 18th century and the emergence of the English Landscape School that landscape design was applied on a large scale. It was also at this time that the artistic ideas of unity, harmony, contrast, balance and focus began to be explored in landscape design.
Alexander Pope (1688-1744) was an English poet, essayist and literary critic who had a considerable influence on the ideas behind the English landscape garden. In an essay on gardening in the Guardian (1713), he urged a return to the "amiable simplicity of unadorned nature" in place of the formal garden; and he proclaimed what was to become the cardinal rule for the English landscape style 'In all, let nature never be forgot.....Consult the genius of the place".
In ancient times a “genius loci” was the protective spirit of a place. In contemporary usage "genius loci" usually refers to a location's distinctive atmosphere, or a “spirit of place”, rather than necessarily a guardian spirit.
Pope's verse laid the foundation for one of the most widely agreed principles of landscape architecture and design. This is the principle that landscape designs should always be adapted to the context in which they are located….
Alexander Pope tied visual experience to literal cultivation when observed that ‘‘all gardening is landscape-painting.’’ In Pope’s axiom, painting demonstrates the centrality of representation in conveying a genius loci, or ‘‘genius of place.’’ The attempt to create "natural" landscapes did require, however, an unprecedented amount of control over the land, and tended to create isolated islands of wild grandeur which could only be enjoyed by the well-trained eye. Designers such as Lancelot Brown and Humphrey Repton were hired by wealthy land barons to reshape their estates – according to Russell Page they "encouraged their wealthy clients to tear out their splendid formal gardens and replace them with his facile compositions of grass, tree clumps and rather shapeless pools and lakes " Still others claimed that the English Landscape School manipulated the land itself in order to separate the common man from the aristocrat, divide society both spatially and culturally.The essential argument others raised is whether "genus loci" can be inherent in the place or can it be created?
Glitz in the Garden. Consider man’s attempt to conquer nature within the landscape as a symbol for wealth and power. Specific oppulent civilizations provide many examples throughout recorded history – as punctuated by Hadrian’s Villa, Versailles, and Hearst Castle.
Garrett Eckbo- “As social inequieties become more complex, those who have more than the average, and more than they need, tend to express or flaunt such surpluses…. For the common man, dish gardens, patios or suburban backyards may provide symbols of memories of the paradise of the rich.”
From the Telegraph, here is this morning’s article on this year's 20 million pound show garden, the most expensive in the history of “The Great Show”. (Interestingly, this comes after complaints at last years show that Chelsea had scaled back, reflective of the global recession.)
“David Domoney's design is the most expensive in the event's 97 year history.
The Ace of Diamonds garden will be littered with jewels loaned by Bond Street store Leviev. The garden celebrates the links between plants and precious stones and its centrepiece will be diamond jewellery worth millions that will require unprecedented security.
It will boast a £1 million peony-shaped ring with pink and green diamonds and a daisy-shaped ring set with a rare, flawless blue diamond worth £3.2 million.
Domoney, who formerly appeared on ITV's This Morning, also hopes to include an even more valuable uncut diamond in his elaborate, outdoor display.
The garden will be worth more than all Chelsea's other collections put together when the Royal Horticulture Society's annual showpiece begins on May 25.
Many of the plants being used by Domoney have gemstones in their names such as euonymous emerald gaiety, potentilla gold finger and hosta diamond tiara.
A looping path of stepping stones leads to a central, diamond-shaped patio. When viewed from above, it is said to look like a pendant necklace.
The garden will boast Chiltern marble, Roman plinths and backlit walls with semi-precious stones such as quartz and amethyst.
The gems will be on display for the gardens launch and the duration of the judging. Domoney, who has previously suggested using Viagra to perk up wilting plants, said: "I always endeavour to introduce something a little bit more entertaining and this garden is something really special.
"I am aiming to give the garden a real James Bond-style feel.
"There will be more bling on display than on Paris Hilton.
"But we will be asking the judges to think of Helen Mirren for a touch of class.
"It's high end and extreme but with a strong horticultural message. Its a jewellery box garden. "This garden will be the most expensive that Chelsea has ever had or is ever likely to have.”
"It will be more valuable than all the rest of Chelsea collections from this year and last year combined." RHS shows director Bob Sweet said: "We are all very excited that this very valuable diamond will be sat on a table in David's outdoor garden. "We have tight security at Chelsea anyway but something like this will require special attention, which it will definitely get."
Chelsea's world-famous show gardens typically cost no more than £250,000.
The Ace of Diamonds is the second of four Domoney gardens designed for airline sponsor BMI's Diamond Club, following on from last year's Ace of Spades.
For that, a Harley Davidson motorbike took pride of place in a large pit shaped like a giant ace of spades and lined with recycled garden spades.”
Last years Ace of Spades garden.
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