The Changing Environment

Destruction, regeneration and the impact of man on the environment are key topics represented in the Conceptual Garden category at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

With the impact and causes of our changing environment at the forefront of many recent debates, the 2013 Conceptual Gardens provide a forum for an artistic and innovative look at the consequences of waste and over-use of natural resources, natural disasters and nature’s self-restoration process.

Hoping to stimulate people’s imaginations and emotions, Caroline Tait and John Esling have designed a garden featuring a multi-faceted mass of fridges arranged to reflect the form of an iceberg. The garden is intended to provoke thought and make something beautiful from discarded building blocks of consumer society. The design recalls roadside ‘fridge mountains’; symbolic of society’s wastefulness with resource, and conjures up an iceberg, cold and unwelcoming, but iconic of global warming and our role in promoting it.

Benedict Green makes his debut at the show with a garden that encourages the use of an alternative to water-worn limestone in garden settings. The rare habitats of British limestone pavements were heavily quarried for rock gardens until recent protection was put in place. Benedict’s garden is a conceptual abstraction where the shapes are formed using concrete from more sustainable limestone aggregate. It demonstrates a sustainable alternative to bringing a limestone pavement into a garden setting.

Luc Arek will exhibit a rectangular garden, growing a selection of vegetables surrounded on three sides by climbing vegetables and trained fruit trees. One side of the garden will feature a seated human figure who is reflecting his/her work while breathing in the purified air created through plant photosynthesis. The garden is designed to emphasise how, by producing our own crops, we can be self-supporting, as well as contribute to purifying the atmosphere and drawing attention to the continued loss of allotment land for building.

‘The Desolation of Smaug and Beyond’, designed by Catherine Macdonald, explores the effects of forest fire and the subsequent new growth. The garden features abstract use of forms, colours and structures to represent the desolation and regeneration phases of this devastating event.

Jon Tilley’s garden design is based on a giant grass claw rising from the earth and gouging the ground. The idea being that at times of natural disaster such as earthquakes, volcanoes, floods and tsunamis it is almost as if the Earth self-harms and wounds herself. The claws, which are created out of sculptural dry stone, leave behind blood-red flowers and plants that seem to ooze from the soil.

Bruce Waldock’s garden promotes the activities of The Conservation Foundation and in particular the major replanting programme ‘Great British Elm Experiment’. Cuttings have been taken from parent trees that have survived the various waves of Dutch elm disease, and the resulting saplings are being grown on and monitored by schoolchildren, community groups, farmers and private individuals across the UK. The garden portrays an apocalyptic scene, but from the devastation, a spiralling glade of new growth emerges.

Each garden will engage the curious minded and will display an innovative approach to horticulture.