One of the most innovative gardens at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show was the Beyond the Screen garden sponsored by Facebook. Why? Well, in a world where social media often gets a bad press – and understandably so – this garden set out to celebrate the many ways in which social media platforms can connect people across the world in different ways.
The coastal themed garden used the natural connectivity of water and the ocean to symbolise how social media brings people together in groups with common interests – in this case, gardening. The water represents the connectivity between our online and offline lives and the interactions and opportunities that social media helps to facilitate right across the world. The garden was built with young people in mind to present a physical space in which young people can connect in real life, as well as online.
The copper and steel canopy structure was designed along the line of an abstract wave shape, and its lovely burnt orange colour reminded me of the sails of the iconic Galway Hooker boats so important to our own maritime tradition here in the west of Ireland. Copper, being a good conductor, again referenced connectivity, and the water itself lapped gently against the rocks in little waves – a feat of technical ingenuity that rivals anything I’ve ever seen at this most prestigious of horticultural shows.
Designer Joe Perkins chose plants that thrive in coastal conditions from all over the world – another reminder of the opportunities we have to connect online with members of the global community with which we have something in common – even if they live thousands of miles away. Many of the plants – Scots pine, sea kale and agapanthus – grow very happily in coastal areas here and I often include them in my own planting plans for clients.
The garden was awarded a much sought after gold medal by the judges, and in return provided pause for thought and inspiration to the thousands of visitors to this year’s show – your Gardenwise columnist among them!
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