Now You See It

The Urban Plantaholics Kitchen Garden continues to progress. The stud work frame is now finished, allowing us to get a feel for the sheltered, secluded atmosphere we want to create at Chelsea.

It may seem a contradiction in terms to try to create a secluded private garden at a show visited by 157,000 people but I think this is one of the main issues facing designers of show gardens. The public have to be able to see the garden, but if you can see the whole thing in one glance, it’s not likely to be very interesting.

In a real garden we can partition, divide, interrupt, obscure and frame to our heart’s content, safe in the knowledge that each area, vista and feature will in good time reveal itself to the viewer as they explore.

A show garden has to work when viewed from the outside by the public, as well as from inside when inspected by the judges. It’s a fine line!

I was particularly impressed by Andy Sturgeon’s garden at Chelsea in 2008. He used a surprisingly dense planting of Dicksonia and Nothofagus around the perimeter, causing the viewer to glimpse the delights within through fronds and branches. It was almost magical!

I find myself at times obsessed with this relationship between what we can and can’t see, both in the garden and in life.

We always seem to want to see and know more but as soon as something comes fully into view, it loses much of its appeal. It’s a very human dilemma. What’s better, anticipation or gratification?

I hope to be exploring this theme some more at Hampton Court in the summer, if my application is accepted. My two conceptual gardens in 2007 and 8 were both concerned with this dilemma and played with the viewer’s perceptions. My submission for this year continues to push in the same direction, playing with what you can and can’t see and even what you can and can’t destroy. Fingers crossed!!!

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