In 2010 over 30 garden bloggers from all over the world met for the first ever UK get together at RHS Malvern Spring Show. This blog documents the lead up to that event plus the subsequent informal get togethers we've had in Malvern. There are also insights into the events of 2009, insider views from various exhibitors and personal views of Malvern and surrounding places of interest.

Thus this blog also forms a valuable resource for anyone wanting to visit either the spring or autumn versions of the show, or contemplating a visit to the area.

Monday, 25 April 2011

From Paper to the Eve of the Build: Keni Lee's Second Installment

Here's the second installment of Keni Lee's guest post on his design submission for the Chris Beardshaw Mentorship Scholarship (CBMS)...

About the garden

The 'Atom' theme was chosen by the CBMS team in conjunction with this year's UNESCO year of Chemistry. My design was inspired partly by the metaphysical understanding of atoms by the 5th century BC Chinese philosopher, Laozi; and partly by the convergence of Newtonian- and quantum-mechanical understanding of atoms. The latter is guided mainly by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which basically states that matter can exist both as a particle and a wave. This is reflected in the garden by contrasting features of rock vs water and circle vs angles. This bridges well with the central principles of daodejing, the defining work by Laozi. Many in the world would recognise his work via the infamous “ying-yang” concept. However, the daodejing is more profound than this. In one of its passages (Chapter 42), it stated "Dao begets one; one begets two; two begets three; three begets all things". In modern interpretation, this "trinity of pure things" can be recognised as "proton, electron and neutron", the building blocks of life on Earth. It is interesting to note that the trinity concept is also prevalent in the Christian faith.

As one can see, the unifying concept across both the scientific and metaphysical view of atoms can be brought together by this "trinity of pure things". This unifying concept is reflected by the presence of all features of my garden in sets of three.

Building the garden and my personal take of things so far

From the moment I first sketched my first draft design up to very recently, I had no idea that building a garden would cost so much and that it would involve so many factors such as plants availability and resource availability. I think I have learnt more about project management than garden design in these past few months leading to the build. The odd thing is, I enjoyed every single second of it. The pressure is omnipresent and sometimes you just want to give up. But I have decided to dedicate this garden to my late father, so throwing down the towel is not an option for me. In many ways, the garden reflects my relationship with my father. My father has always been very proud of his Chinese roots, whilst appreciative of my Western perspective of things in life. Seeing the world from these two very perspectives can be both frustrating and enriching at the same time, a sentiment that I wish to portray in my design.

Schedule-wise, the construction will begin on the 18th of April. Due to difficulties in securing leave from my work, I have had to schedule the build in a staggered manner. For the 1st week, my partner will begin the building of the hard landscaping features. Hopefully, all major work would be done by then. During the 2nd week, I have to unfortunately fly to Shanghai for business, and my partner will be flown to Berlin for work too. So build will only continue on the 3rd week, unless I can find volunteers to help with the build. I am trying to get help from friends, but it's difficult when your friends are scattered in the four corners of the globe, and families are thousands of miles away. I will be onsite full time from the 29th April.

Final words

I hope this account shed some light into my thoughts and what the garden mean to me. Designing is such a personal experience that it is sometimes challenging to convey emotion or ideas in words. I hope that the finish garden will be a success and that visitors to my garden will appreciate the finer details weaved into the garden. Please feel free to comment if you have any thoughts or feedback or advice, I will be delighted to hear from you.

Thanks Keni for giving us such a personal and great insight into the challenges faced when designing and building a show garden. I'm sure the project management and problem solving experience you've gained are just as important as the show garden itself.

Today is the start of the second week of the build at Malvern folks and it's been hot and thirsty work so far. Do keep an eye on Keni's progress via his blog.

NB Design images are courtesy of TCAS and NOT available under a Creative Commons licence.


Anonymous said...

This is all totally confusing - I cannot discover where to 'sign in' - but will be attending the show (staying on site; blogging 'live') on all four days.

Please email me details of where you are meeting, and when, to:

Thanks so much.

catmint said...

I love the idea of unifying different ways of understanding reality, and it looks besautiful, peaceful and delicate in the sketch. Good luck.

VP said...

Hi Ann - glad we got there in the end :)

Catmint - welcome! It looked even better at the show :)