Thursday, July 09, 2009

A hole in the ground

Here's what stole the show at Hampton Court for me this week:

Much to my surprise, as I'm aware I'm usually a bit more conventional - even, dare I say it, square - about these things, it was this tiny experimental garden from Rebecca Butterworth, Victoria Pustygina and Ludovica Ginanneschi which for me beat into a cocked hat all the bells-and-whistles big show gardens and even the quirky Henry VIII's Wives gardens (not sure jawbones will catch on as garden ornaments but you never know).

The thing I liked most about it was that as you approach, the mirrors create the illusion that the planting is stretching away underneath the ground like some subterranean cavern. It's a truly lovely effect.

The planting was fabulous too - all big gorgeous colocasias (alocasias? never could tell the difference) and the slender elegance of Cyperus alternifolius: there were some very understated hemerocallis in there too in just the right shade of dusky pink and butterscotch. It was all beautifully well-judged and deservedly won not only a gold medal but also Best Conceptual Garden.

The garden has a painfully pretentious official write-up - presumably originating from the designers themselves which is mildly worrying - but I got around that by not trying to 'understand' it too much. For me it worked simply as a small but exquisite little piece of planting heaven.


Rob said...

I had seen a picture of this garden, I think a few nights ago when I was a bit too tired to work out the optical illusion. It is genius isn't it? Quite a simple concept, and something one could easily organise at home.

Those would be Colocasias, but don't ask me how they differ from Alocasias....

Frances, said...

Like Rob, I had seen this photographed but didn't realize about the mirrors. Or that there were daylilies, thanks for these details.


LudoLady said...

Sorry to find out these comments on our garden this late! The illusion was given in a quite simple way, just a mirror on each side reflecting plants over and over again.
You were right: Colocasia eusculenta and its black variety 'Black Magic', a really nice plant with architectural strong shape but with quite a light feeling!

You can find more photos and the complete plant list at

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