Chelsea Tower Show: Vertical gardening is bloomin' marvellous at this year's event
By EMILY ALLEN
Last updated at 9:17 PM on 22nd May 2011
Tall order: A gardener works in the B&Q Garden in preparation for the Chelsea Flower Show
Gardens are beautiful places normally enjoyed on foot.
But two designers at this year's Chelsea Flower Show have taken gardening to new heights with creations suspended in mid-air and the tallest garden structure ever seen at the prestigious event.
The £300,000 tower-block-type structure, pictured right, is designed by gardeners at DIY chain B&Q and has window boxes packed with vibrant blooms whilst the rest is covered in lawn.
It promotes the show's 'grow your own' theme and aims to encourage people to grow food wherever and however we can.
Designer Patrick Collins said the 30 foot garden, in which every plant has associations with food or drink, highlights how people can grow their own food in an urban setting.
He said: 'I didn't want to do a conventional allotment garden. We're trying to get across the idea you can still have an ornamental garden but created with edible plants.'
Mr Collins said he wanted to illustrate the diversity of edible plants - 90 per cent of our food comes from just 20 plant species.
His display ranges from lime trees, from which tea can be made, to nasturtiums with their edible flowers, along with herbs and vegetables. A glass tower, complete with green-herb wall and window boxes packed with vegetables, dominates the garden.
He added: 'The idea with the window boxes is that we're saying no matter how small or unconventional your space is, there's always an opportunity to grow your own food.'
The chance to grow food in small spaces has been taken up by primary school pupils around the country. Schools were supplied with compost, containers and grow bags, and produced tomatoes, cabbages, corn and cauliflowers which are now on display at the Chelsea show.
New heights: The garden is designed to illustrate the diversity of edible plants - 90 per cent of our food comes from just 20 plant species
Stewart Knight, who put the garden together, said the idea was to encourage children into gardening.
'The basic idea to get across is that you can grow things in a very small environment, in small spaces.'
Elsewhere in the show, a celebrity gardener is taking gardening to new heights too.
Diarmuid Gavin will unveil his spectacular 'Irish Sky Garden' - suspended in mid air.
The unique creation floats above the ground and overlooks London's River Thames and includes a 16 meter long garden pod which will be raised to 25 metres with the help of a giant crane.
Mr Gavin said he hoped his Irish sky garden would "grab some attention" and show that his country had "a little bit of imagination".
The Dubliner added: 'It's a hanging garden or a flying garden - the first garden truly in the sky at Chelsea.'
Those lucky enough to enjoy the full experience will step into a pod - named the Wonkavator - sit on a traditional garden bench and attach themselves to a harness before take-off.
'You're given a new view of a garden - the Irish Sky Garden will look different as the surroundings change - and then you elevate over Chelsea first of all, very slowly, and then over the whole of London and the river,' he said.
Mr Gavin added that the idea came from the floating islands of Pandora, created for James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar.
Hanging garden: Diarmuid Gavin's suspended Irish Sky Garden hangs above the trees ahead of the opening of the Chelsea Flower Show
Tourism Malaysia garden designer James Wong revealed that the strict temperature requirements of blue water lilies meant they had to be transported from south-east Asia by a medical courier, which normally carries vital organs.
'Their water temperature, so we're told, can't drop below 28C,' he said.
'Each of them is in a specially heated pot. It's basically a giant thermos flask with a heater inside it.'
Among the other gardens is the M&G show garden which is a modern take on the traditional kitchen garden, mingling flowers such as clematis and roses with cabbages, beans and herbs, as well as features such as a glass platform.
Among the "artisan gardens", A Child's Garden In Wales evokes the year 1947 in the Welsh valleys when fuel shortages meant food could not be transported and people were still being encouraged to grow their own.
Where is that stone? Worker Matt Attwood looks for stones on the floor of the pool in the Homebase garden display
Meanwhile the importance of water power is demonstrated by Leeds City Council's garden, which contains a working water wheel inspired by a mill.
This weekend workers spent hours putting the finishing touches to the 17 show gardens, 15 small gardens and hundreds of exhibits ahead of the opening tomorrow.
The Queen and senior royals will tour the event in private later today, while celebrities will also get a first look.
Some 157,000 visitors will see the sold-out show, which opens to the public for five days from tomorrow.
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