Chelsea Flower Show competition to feature acoustic garden

The concept design of the ‘Together We Can’ garden is shaped similarly to an ear. Photo: Papworth TrustThe concept design of the ‘Together We Can’ garden is shaped similarly to an ear.
Photo: Papworth Trust

For the first time ever, an acoustic garden has been entered in the artisan garden category of the Chelsea Flower Show.

The garden is sponsored by a charity serving people with disabilities, the Papworth Trust, which found its inspiration for the concept while working on the organization’s “I Can” campaign with deaf solo percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. Her motto is “teach the world to listen.”

Glennie and the Papworth Trust share the hope the acoustic garden will increase awareness and foster inclusivity, serving as a legacy for both people with disabilities and gardeners, according to Horticulture Week.

“I want to create several sound-scape gardens for people to visit and enjoy and to show that wonderful gardens don’t just grow, they actually grow aurally as well,” Glennie said.

Glennie’s fascination with how the women of the Vanuatu Islands create “sea music” with their hands, water and voices served as an influence for the design of the “Together We Can” garden.

A water marimba uses the natural elements of the garden to create an acoustic pulse.

“One of my aims is to show that you can create music from almost anything,” Glennie said. “But the bigger legacy will be if we can create the concept of this type of garden in other public spaces.”

Peter Eustance of Symphonic Gardens designed the garden for Papworth Trust and the overall layout of the garden is reminiscent of the structure of the ear. A curving pool with water cascading in it draws the eye by being in the foreground.

Other features of the garden include a woodland background of birch and hazel, a soft planting that is able to sway with the music, and floral soloists to stand out in the botanical symphony.

“I wanted to use the subtleties of the garden and the elements of nature to bring together something that is around us and part of our everyday life,” Glennie said.

Students from Brunel University are also lending a hand on the project.

“It is great working with the students, who have brought in a technological aspect to enhance the sounds and make people aware and experience the subtleties of the garden,” Glennie said.

The Chelsea Flower Show has been held by the Royal Horticultural Society since 1913 and features innovative garden designs and new plants each year.

The 2016 show will take place May 26-28. The “Together We Can” garden will compete in the artisan garden category, which looks for enchanting and imaginative designs that exhibit both traditional and modern approaches while employing sustainable materials.

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