LANDSCAPES: Gorgeous gardens


WINNING STREAK: Even the Silver and Bronze Medal winners at the Gardening World Cup 2012 put up a sterling show with gardens worth their weight in gold

The Gardening World Cup 2012 proved to be the ultimate challenge so much so that even the Silver and Bronze Medal winners were in a winner‘s league of their own as seen in their show gardens.

Silver Medal winners at the Gardening World Cup 2012 in Japan
Celebrating silver linings
The other Silver Medal winners were all champion landscape designers in their own right too, judging from their high quality entries.
The four Silver Medal winners were Jo Thompson representing Italy with her creation entitled “Butterfly Effect”, Gabino Carballo from Spain for his “‘Dragomed’ Garden” as well as David Davidson and Leon Kluge from South Africa for their joint creation entitled “Hortus Consensus – The Watershed Garden” besides Karen Stefonick from USA for her show garden called “Passage Under the Sun”.
Thompson, fresh from her Chelsea debut represented Italy with her show garden entitled “Butterfly Effect” whereby plants and flowers exist happily in a butterfly-friendly garden enclosed within Tuscan-style stone arches reminiscent of an abandoned monastery framed with classical architectural walls. She states part of the intention of her design was to “create a quiet and tranquil space, a space where, if the daylight allows, shadows will come and go, ever-changing. It is a place to think about, and reflect on, the importance of peace”.
Carballo of Spain’s entry,“‘Dragomed’ Garden” showcased the mythology in Barcelona in which the symbolic skeleton of the beast that threatens peace is a reminder not to take the idea of peace, which is fragile, for granted.
South Africa duo Davidson and Kluge’s “The Watershed Garden” showcased two aspects of the country with the “old” represented by the typical bush with a dormant tree and the “new” as seen contrasted in the lush plants.
The wall that divides the garden symbolically separates the past from the present. Contained within the walls of the “new” South Africa is a new way of thinking drawn from the South African experience of reconciliation and nation-building since the advent of democracy through the unification of its people. Here, the landscape undergoes a metamorphosis that results in a mutually beneficial transformation. At the heart of the garden is the amphitheatre or common ground — the place where matters are discussed, resolved and solutions are found.
The watershed is symbolic of the turning point in the course of history with the water falling from the crest of the hill flowing into the “new” garden like life-giving rain.
Stefonick of USA’s “Passage Under the Sun” meanwhile represents “land bodies on the planet physically separated by water (with) the two dais representing countries” complemented by splashes of vibrant colour juxtaposed against a subdued garden.
“The water bodies — life-giving, and water walls are tears of the past. Stepping stones of amity now connect the past and present, continents and countries; creating (a) passage under the bright red sun.” An apt symbolism indeed of two communities coming together which was represented in the two decks which were separated by water from the water feature pond.
Bronze Medal winners at the Gardening World Cup 2012 in Japan
Bronze beauties
The three Bronze Medal winners were Richard Miers representing the UK with his show garden entitled “Serenity”, Jihae Hwang from South Korea for her interpretation of “Poverty Is Tranquility (Mother’s Sewing Basket)” and Haruko Seki from Japan for her entry entitled “Garden of Memory”.
British designer Miers thrilled spectators with his elegantly beautiful outdoor dining area reminiscent of an English tea party table setting complemented by the presence of a trickling stream indicating peace.
“My garden represents a pocket of living green in an urban environment, a tranquil and peaceful space in which to relax and entertain.
“It is a fusion of East and West and aims to promote an understanding and mutual respect of each other with the classical contemporary European visual design language (use of symmetry and even numbers), combined with Japanese native plants, building materials and methods,” he states.
According to him, the garden’s inherent beauty has the power to heal one of the stresses of daily living.
South Korea’s Hwang, also another much-respected Chelsea veteran showcased her sensitive touches in “Poverty Is Tranquility” which resulted in a tender garden exemplifying the humility brought about by poverty. Clearly an eye-opener, her attention to detail is also seen reflected in a row of tiny Korean shoes tucked under a bench.
Here, a glimpse into poverty-stricken Korea then is showcased in the theme of her garden that represents the efforts of a Korean mother in having to bring up seven children on her own.
Besides growing food, the mother takes to her sewing basket to provide for her children, hence the depiction of a stainless steel sculpture of a needle and thread which was laced through with a layer of white composite material that showcased attempts to transform poverty into beauty.
The sunken garden shows the motif of fabrics in a sewing basket which symbolises the Korean mother‘s spiritual values of self-sacrifice and strength of mind, having withstood extreme poverty that prevailed during the course of modernisation in mid-20th century Korea while protecting and providing for the family. The conceptual garden aims to express sentiments of nostalgia for the times of poverty, when the human warmth between people was often more easily felt. It also conveys the intangible value of strong resilience and sacrifice.
Japan’s Seki with her “Garden of Memory” also proved to be an interesting entry, featuring grass bank slopes dividing the areas of the garden with a surrounding white path which navigated around the water and over two stepping stones.
“We Japanese, having our origins in the forest, have been engaged in the cycle of the universe since ancient times. All things are inter-related as we have continued to repeat the cycle of extinction and regeneration.
“The universe itself is not (a) closed system but a reciprocal world much akin to the Mobius Loop; open to the outside but returning to the inside. It is said that human beings possess the structure deep within the recesses of their subconscious mind. This garden portrays scenery from a number of shared memories that we Japanese used to have,” she shares.
The garden, in creating the “memory“ was surrounded on one side by a tree screen which was designed and planted to provide gentle movement, whilst the flow of the water helped to provide the ambience.
Pics courtesy of Gardening World Cup 2012.

Hwang from South Korea with her creation “Poverty Is Tranquility (Mother’s Sewing Basket)” with its eye-catching needle-and-thread symbol.

Miers represents UK with his show garden “Serenity”, highlighting gorgeous blooms and a tea party setting combining eastern and western elements.

South African duo (from left) Davidson and Kluge’s “The Watershed Garden” was one of the Silver Medal winners whose entry showcased two aspects of the country by contrasting the “old” with the “new”.

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