Chelsea Flower Show 2018: The LG Eco-City Garden

 

I have said it before and I will say it again, the LG Eco-City Garden makes me feel happy: the question is, can I explain why? Firstly the colour palette of saturated greens, punctuated by yellows and oranges, topped off with a froth of pure white, makes my heart sing. How rarely we see these colours used in a show garden without the support of purple, but here they are, bright, hopeful and unencumbered. The optimism expressed in this garden appeals to me as someone who’s glass is always half full. It suggests a place where the mornings are cool and breezy, the days are warm and sunny, and evenings full of laughter and friendship. There are no boundaries to living in this perfect indoor/outdoor space. One breezes leisurely from kitchen to garden treading on camomile as one goes. I want to live here: I want to believe that such a situation might exist and that one day I could afford to live this dream. To evoke such feelings is, for me, part of the purpose of a show garden.

 

 

I have also said that I would cry for Hay Joung Hwang if she did not win a gold medal, and true to my word there was a tear in my eye when I heard she’d been awarded a second Silver-Gilt. The judges have very strict criteria for marking the show gardens and I’ve no doubt they had good reason to score this garden as they did, but as a layman the outcome is hard to fathom. Anyway, we move on, and I hope that Hay will take huge encouragement from all the positive remarks that are being made about her design. Hay’s practice is small and this garden is a brilliant showcase for her style and talent. If I had need of someone to redesign my garden, I’d have no hesitation in asking Hay to take a look at it.

 

 

When viewing the LG Eco-City Garden at ground level it is hard to picture this as a high-rise terrace in a greened residential development. I have included the renderings to help you put the garden in context. For sure, this is not a garden that most of us could to aspire to, especially in a city like London where square footage of this magnitude would come at eye-watering expense. Nevertheless the fantasy is so compelling that one wants to believe it could happen, and would not begrudge the lucky individual that could afford it. Behind the open-plan kitchen area there is a cool, zen-like space to look out on, a living picture composed of hornbeam, slate, moss, ferns and water.  Look closely and you will see tiny goldfish darting back and forth. They are part of the garden’s sustainable narrative in that their waste will be filtered out and used as fertiliser for the plants.

 

 

Hay’s design for the LG Eco-City Garden marries two of the 21st Century’s greatest concerns – concern for the environment, and the advance of technology. It integrates the two interests successfully, although not without compromise. This is a residential development and there’s ample use of concrete and glass, neither of which are especially sustainable materials. But their use is a reality, for now at least. From an environmental perspective the plants and trees play a role in oxygen generation, humidity control, temperature moderation, noise and carbon dioxide reduction. The foliage also captures toxic particles in the air before they can enter our lungs and cause us harm. Trees and moss are particularly effective at reducing pollution in urban areas.

 

 

This garden could so easily have been left as an architectural composition of trees, hedges, glass and concrete, but flowers have been incorporated liberally and joyfully. They are here to attract pollinators; bees, moths and butterflies which have been so challenged by the changes humans have made to the natural environment. For some people the ideas of outdoor living and attracting insects are not compatible, but we have to get used to it. There are probably fewer airborne creatures in our lives than ever before and we must learn to live side by side.

 

 

Naturally, with LG being a manufacturer of high-end technology the garden provides something of a showroom for their wares. It wasn’t only the gentlemen taking a fancy to the vast TV screen embedded in the garden’s perimeter, deftly inset so as to shade the screen from the sun. In the kitchen one finds a refrigerator with a door that becomes clear when tapped, preventing the need to open it to see what’s inside. This reduces the loss of cold air and thereby cuts energy bills. There’s also a washing machine that can wash two loads at once. The garden features a renewable air-to-water heating system known as Therma V which is approved by the government’s renewable heat incentive scheme.

 

 

Sleek, beautiful, intelligent and mindful of the environment, Hay Joung Hwang’s design for the LG Eco-City garden ticks many boxes that other show gardens do not. However, Hay did not let any of these sub-plots get in the way of presenting a perfectly joyful, aspirational and professional garden, and for that I award her my personal Best in Show*. TFG.

*As a tribute, and because I did not write-up Hay’s 2016 garden fully on this blog, I am retrospectively posting a gallery of images showing her LG Smart Garden which I hope you’ll enjoy.

Continue scrolling down for a plant list.

 

 

Plant List

perennials

  • Ammi visnaga ‘Compact White’
  • Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Alba’
  • Astrantia major ‘Large White’
  • Camassia leichtlinii ‘Alba’
  • Delphinium ‘Sungleam’
  • Digitalis white (these were originally intended to be eremurus)
  • Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’
  • Geum ‘Banana Daiquiri’
  • Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus
  • Hesperis matronalis ‘White’
  • Lilium perenne ‘Album’
  • Lupinus ‘Desert Sun’
  • Lupinus ‘Gallery White’
  • Melica altissima ‘Alba’
  • Orlaya grandiflora
  • Ornithogallum nutans
  • Papaver ruprifragum ‘Orange Feathers’
  • Papaver spicatum
  • Phlox divaricata ‘Fuller’s White’
  • Ranunculus acris ‘Citrinus’
  • Tellima grandiflora
  • Trollius ‘Lemon Queen’
  • Trollius europaeus
  • Trollius ‘Cheddar’
  • Verbascum ‘Gainsborough’

Roses

  • ‘Diamond Days
  • ‘Mary Berry’
  • ‘Salvation’
  • ‘Yours In Continued Friendship’
  • ‘Easy Going’
  • ‘High Sheriff’
  • ‘Royal Philharmonic’

Moss Bed

  • Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata’
  • Athyrium filix-femina
  • Leucobryum glaucum (pincushion moss)
  • Kindbergia praelonga (common feather moss)
  • Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans’

‘Steppable’ plants

  • Chaemaemelum nobile ‘Treneague’ (Roman camomile)
  • Sagina subulata (Pearlwort)
  • Mentha requienii (Corsican Mint)