Chelsea Flower Show 2012: Inside Diarmuid Gavin’s magic pyramid

DSCN4108 300x225 Chelsea Flower Show 2012: Inside Diarmuid Gavins magic pyramid

You’ve got to love Diarmuid Gavin. Whatever he does, it’s usually bigger, bolder and madder than anyone else. He doesn’t always win the top awards at Chelsea (although I thought his Sky Garden last year was beautiful and thoroughly deserved its gold medal). However, when it comes to adding to the gaiety of the nation, I think he should have a place in the Horticultural Hall of Fame.

His pyramid, or tower, sponsored by Westland Horticulture, is a piece of work. It stands 80ft tall, with a scaffolding frame, and has seven floors altogether, which each have a different theme. On the first floor is a miniature gentlemen’s clubroom, looking out onto a Japanese terrace. The second floor has flowers – peonies and roses – while the next floor has a greenhouse, a cold frame and a vegetable patch, grown in raised beds.

There is none of the meticulous finish you find at Chelsea – the floors are made of scaffolding boards with rather alarming gaps in between, and there is a very random selection of furniture, ranging from swing seats to Adirondack chairs.

A lift – of the most basic kind – takes you up to the sixth level, thank goodenss, because although there are stairs up to the first floor, further access is by ladder. Erk! I’m terrified of heights, so I went up in the lift, stood on the sixth level (with my legs shaking) long enough to take some pictures, and came down in the lift, feeling rather sick and looking rather pale.

VP, on the other hand, came down the stainless steel flume – like the ones they have at water parks – which runs from the top to the bottom. She said it was fab. I’m quite happy to take her word for it, and I’m full of admiration. As it was, I had to go and have one of Mark Diacono’s cocktails afterwards to make me feel better (he was acting as bartender on Jo Thompson’s Caravan Garden).

There has been a bit of controversy about Diarmuid’s garden (no!) because there was some suggestion that he was going to let the public on, in defiance of health and safety rules. The RHS line is that if he chooses to invite people on, and they want to go, that’s fine, but it’s totally impractical for the public to have access. If you think the RHS might take rather a pompous attitude to Diarmuid’s tower, then let me tell you that head press officer Hayley Monckton has already been down the flume.

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  • madnessofcrowds

    Diarmuid Gavin obviously did not get enough attention as a child – he is always ‘attention seeking’ – and the results usually have very, very little to do with plants or gardening.  Two years ago he had a garden filled with coloured balls. How original?  Gavin is just an exhibitionist – talentless and frankly uninteresting.

    BBC Gardening – apart from Monty Don has descended into the gutter of celebrity culture – where apart from Alan whatsisname – the presenters are completely unconvincing in terms of their gardening ability.   Rachel de Thame – slathered in makeup – seems to think she is on a fashion show – cannot believe this ‘presenter’ everu had dirt under her nails. Oh for the days of Percy Thrower when ‘real’ gardeners grew real plants; today the BBC garden shows are just about marketing; what to buy this year; how to look good among the steel balls and water features.
    Ghastly, ghastly ghastly/

  • Tulip

    I’m all in favour of show gardens making a statement, but year on year Gavin’s statement is “Everybody look at me, I’m a maverick.” Isn’t it time he got over himself?

    There are plenty of talented young garden designers who could have made a better contribution in that space. Diarmuid Gavin has never been about gardening, several of his TV make over gardens highlighted this — given a brief of traditional English planting and he didn’t have a clue. He’s a one trick horse, it was fun for a while, time to move on.

  • Victoria Summerley

    Hmm – interesting. Gavin certainly irritates people but he also fascinates them too. This is the most-read post on my blog at the moment – the ones about lesser-known designers or exhibits at Chelsea haven’t had nearly so many hits.

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