How Can a Conceptual Garden Win a Prize?

dan lobb photo

Photo: dan lobb

The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is the little sister to the Chelsea Flower Show. It is smaller, less formal and has a country feel. Think Prince Harry: a little wild and crazy but still royal.

The Show has different categories of gardens: show, small and english poet's but it is unique in having a category called "conceptual". Hard to define, and open to controversy, it seems to be a garden that conveys an idea of a garden, rather than just plantings. does that work.

peri scope photo

Photo: dan lobb

The Gold Medal winner in the Conceptual garden category was Dan Lobb's Landscape Obscured. From the surface it looks like a square of grass with 8 tall metal columns. In fact these are periscopes and the garden is a mushroom garden, growing madly underneath the ground.

By peering down the sculptural looking periscopes, one can see 6 different types of fungi - Shiitake, Oyster, Pom Pom, Shimeji, Nameko, and Eryngii. As they happily grow (they have tripled in size so far) the landscape changes.

mush rooms photo

Photo: dan lobb

The designer loved the idea that something could look so simple on the outside and be so complex underneath. He also wanted to celebrate modest and humble plants like the fungi, moss and liverworts. Throughout the show, a concealed time-lapse camera has been placed underground to capture images of the rapidly changing fungus landscape. At the end of the show: a mushroom feast. All will be harvested, cooked and eaten.

As for the other entrants: Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky features a circular steel structure, from which pots of plants hang upside down, above a semicircle planted with blue agapanthus. Melissa Jolly replicates artist's pictures in flowers.


Photo: bright idea

The Bright Idea features a 20 m. snake- like tube with an inner core covered with LEDs that light up and are meant to represent a human brainwave.

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