What is a show garden?

Week 21 – What is a show garden?

The “Chelsea Flower Show”, what can I say, am I alone in feeling confused? Is that a show garden over there or is it a trade stand? Can I tell the difference? Do I care anymore? Well yes actually I do. My problem is that I just don’t understand what is so interesting about re-creating a familiar landscape from elsewhere. This seems to be a safe route and one that more and more are following. Be it a quarry in Malta, a vineyard in France, a piece of Dartmoor or a slice of Tuscany. It’s all very ‘inspiring’ apparently. A piece of the moon might be more interesting. I want to see designers developing original ideas and creating inspiring spaces, not showing me how well they can reproduce a ‘scene’ from another location. To my eyes this is just a display of technical ability. Over the years many designers have chosen to delve a little deeper. In 1997 Christopher Bradley Hole’s ‘Latin Garden’ was inspired by a Roman poet and won best in show. Diarmuid Gavin’s 2004 garden drew inspiration from the national lottery and Sarah Ebele’s 2007 garden “600 days with Bradstone” represents the personal space of an Astronaut on a 600 day tour of duty and was an investigation into the psychological effects of long term stay in space. Now that’s what I consider an original and exciting ’show garden’.