Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Show's Surprising Theme

When I went to Palmstead's public planting workshop last year, Andrew Wilson spoke about how the facilities found in our parks and home gardens need to change to meet the demands of our lives today. He argued that technology will be moving outside, so we'll see many new design features to help us in our work and play.

I initially dismissed this as too fantastical, especially his example of park areas set aside for playing with the Wii. I thought we're too welded to doing this kind of thing inside. However, now I'm not so sure as several gardens at Hampton Court this year are about the impact of technology or how it can be used in the garden.

Instead of artworks adorning the wall, the Cinema Paradiso small garden shown above has a large screen which can be used for watching a film, playing console games or even as a giant computer monitor. It's a practical example of Andrew Wilson's vision.

Elsewhere, there were no shortage of ideas and stories about the impact of technology told in a garden form. In the show gardens The Eye of the Internet Maze looked at the impact of IT on the older generation, whilst the Virtual Reality Garden...? (so virtual it doesn't appear to be listed on the show's website in the show garden index!) asked questions about what might be real or virtual in our world.

To me, the pictured My Life in the Cloud (conceptual garden) has a particular resonance because I'm operating 'in the cloud' every time I write a blog post. Its designer Nigel Jones, worked for Google before turning to garden design, so it's doubly interesting as my chosen platform (Blogger) is a Google owned product.

Nigel's garden considers the data we place online (particularly personal information) and how well it is protected from view by others. The stairs represent an invitation to view some of Nigel's information placed in the box at the top with only certain people allowed to do so (assuming everything is secure!) and as you can see, Victoria successfully gained access :)

I was surprised to see so many gardens devoted to a technological theme and whilst there were varying levels of success in execution, I for one am glad they were there because they've provided much food for thought and discussion.

What do you think - does new technology have a place in our gardens? Do you blog from there for instance?

5 comments:

  1. Not convinced by the outdoor screen. Annoying for the neighbours, and surely only usable at certain times. I work in a garden office, and on a moderately bright day the screen can be hard to see, and I have to use the digital camera "blind" in sunlight. When I passed the garden I couldn't see anything playing on the screen - did anyone see it in action?

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  2. I read and write, and sometimes sew, in the garden, but blogging? As WTW says, the light is too bright to see the screen properly, and any internet connection is impossible. I'd miss all the wild-life, too, if I had my head down, focussed on a screen; though it's easy to scribble on paper. As for watching TV, well we hardly do so indoors! No, keep the garden tranquil and a place to enjoy having one's hands in the earth, the sky, creatures and everything else that males up the outdoors. Some things just do not mix.

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  3. WtW - good points. I was struggling to use my mobile phone to take pictures in Bristol yesterday, so there must be loads of practicalities to overcome (never mind the weather!) before that screen is used regularly.

    ASM - I've tried to blog from the garden, but have problems seeing the screens sometimes. Others claim to be more successful.

    Blogger is having the final word, because the WV says unwhise!

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  4. I agree with blogger - definitely unwhise.
    Actually, R uses the laptop in the garden sometimes, but a fixed screen would be pointless because of the light issues.
    I'm more concerned about the idea of people watching films or playing computer games outside though - how inconsiderate, how selfish that would be in a real garden, with real neighbours.

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  5. Juliet - good points. One of our choir members has a large screen (of the cinema type rather than plasma) in his garden, but then his place is rather large and remote!

    Perhaps one of the points about a garden is the option to get away from all these things and find some sanctuary?

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