I have always loved Chelsea Flower Show and have attended for the last couple of decades initially as an awestruck punter and latterly as journalist, broadcaster, Royal correspondent, RHS Judge and Council Member. I have seen it early in the morning, late at night after all the crowds have left and in the middle of baking hot public days.
This, however, is only the second time that I have been there as an exhibitor. The first time was a garden I did for the Daily Express in 1999 and the second in 2017. This most recent happy encounter happened very fast and at the last minute when I was invited to design a sound themed garden for a collaboration between the RHS and Radio Two. This was the to be the Zoe Ball Listening Garden.
Sound is quite tricky as the sounds we usually associate with gardens are a bit sotto voce (birdsong and rustlings) but at the same time loud music at Chelsea would not be that popular with the neighbours. The solution was to try and replicate the feeling you get if you stand too close to a speaker stack at a concert – you can feel the vibrations of the sound.
If you put speakers under water you get some extraordinary effects and if you put them underground then you can make the earth shake. So that is what we did – we took three very handsome core ten troughs full of water and a bank of speakers under a gravel strip at the front of the garden. We then surrounded the whole thing with gloriously green planting.
It was fun, you can read more here.
My thanks to Elephonic Sound, Crocus, Hortus Loci, Humaira Ikram, Steph Marling, Franco Stoppani and Fiona Silk.
Film by Grey Moth.