Chelsea braced for Gavin's garden

Mon, May 21, 2012, 01:00

THE WORLD’S favourite gardening festival, the RHS Chelsea 2012 Show, formally opens tomorrow and, as ever, the garden of Irish designer Diarmuid Gavin has generated more headlines than all other 14 show gardens put together.

Seven-storeys high, over 80ft tall, pyramidal in shape and home to a helter-skelter as well as its own internal elevator (also, supposedly, its own bell boy), Gavin’s design is a theatrical, 21st-century take on the gardens of Babylon.

The sky farm cum vertical garden takes its inspiration from the “arcologies” or “sky cities” of science fiction, eco-architectural projects such as the Bosco Verticale in Milan, and New York’s Highline Park as well as Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree and even London’s Albert Bridge.

Constructed from smartly painted, back-and-gold scaffolding, each floor or storey is individually themed. For example, floor five will have a shower and bath supplied by solar-powered hot water; floor four will be home to a Victorian greenhouse, an outdoor dining room and kitchen; while Gavin will have his own office on the top floor.

As for the claim – reported in some media – that Gavin’s plan to allow visitors into the garden is in defiance of the RHS, well, it simply isn’t true.

The society is fully behind the idea of allowing a small amount of visitors into the gardens throughout the event, while the Dublin “Residence” club has even booked two of the garden’s storeys and will be sending over chef Graham Neville to cater for visiting sponsors as well as friends and family of the designer.

As for Gavin himself, he is not too worried as to what kind of a medal his 2012 Chelsea garden gets (last year he won gold).

“It’s never, ever, been about a quest for gold. For me, this garden is a celebration and promotion of Irish talent and of the 20-man team that came over to London to build it,” he told The Irish Times yesterday.

Gavin is not the only Irish person in with a chance of an RHS Chelsea gold medal, as both Dunshaughlin florist Jenny Murphy of Flower by Moira and the Newry-based florist Siobhán Hughes will also be exhibiting at Chelsea this week, after coming through the fiercely competitive qualifying heats of a competition run in association with the British Floral Association. Also taking a stand at the show will be Houses, Castles Gardens of Ireland and the Wicklow-based firm The Happy Hen House.