Seen at the Festival of the Tree

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

Monday, 19 May 2014

Shows of Hands: Chelsea Fringe 2014 Launch Special

Last Friday saw the official launch of this year's Chelsea Fringe and as you can see I took the opportunity to link it with my Shows of Hands project. Guess which photo is Tim Richardson, the Fringe's founder and Director?

Hmmm... let's see...

... correct - he's in the middle photo on the bottom row. The other photos are:

  • Rosetta Sarah Elkin, the creator of Tiny Taxonomy, a fabulous installation in Belgrave Square, which was chosen the as the event to launch this year's Fringe. More on this project below.
  • Vanessa Berridge points out a cheeky ant addition to one of Tiny Taxonomy's plants
  • Anni Gatti shows me the installation map, because they'd run out before I could nab one
  • Marty Wingate's frou-frou peony peeping out from her goody bag
  • Matthew Wilson who's heavily involved with the Fringe via The Greening of St Pancras International Station and yesterday's recording of Gardeners' Question Time

After a brief introduction to this year's Fringe at Belgraves Hotel, we decamped to Belgrave Square - one of London's famous private squares - and home to (and open for) Tiny Taxonomy for the Fringe's duration.

The plants on display were sourced from Highgate Cemetery and they give an insight into the unexpected biodiversity these often overlooked places harbour. I was reminded of the work over at the St Giles Living Churchyard project not far from here.

The plants were carefully lifted with their associated material and mounted on their metal plinths. Inside these are rammed earth to provide stability with just the top few inches filled with growing media to form the plants' new home. Each plant was identified and its location carefully recorded for the installation map shown in the photo collage above.

Elevating the plants close to eye level allows the viewer to pause, take stock and take in its form and all the tiny details. This is Geranium cinereum, a plant we often overlook but isn't it marvellous when it's allowed to take centre stage?

The changing reflections on the polished metal added another dimension and also ensured this modern looking installation blended in well with its much older surroundings. I loved how the light and metal helped to highlight each plant in turn. And who knew there could be at least three different kinds of moss found in the space of just a few inches?

I can see this approach working well in the smallest of garden spaces and someone like my mum - who's disabled - would be able to look after something like this very easily (...and what about something like this helping to cheer up places like care homes, eh?). Rosetta said her previous installations in Canada have overwintered successfully too.

Tiny Taxonomy is a charming, yet thought provoking piece and perfect for the launch of Chelsea Fringe 2014*.

Here's the link to the launch of  my Shows of Hands for Chelsea Fringe and the Mr Linky for you to add your blog post contributions. Also, thanks to those of you who've emailed in your wonderful photos already - I'll be showing them off on here very soon :)

* = it was brought to Chelsea Fringe by the International Garden Festival with assistance from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts and the collaboration of the Québec Government Office in London, Destination Québec and the Canadian Tourism Commission.


  1. An enjoyable, and interesting, post along with terrific photos. Flighty xx

    1. Thanks Flighty and your contribution is terrific, thanks :-)

  2. Cemeteries are fantastic for plants and wildlife aren't they. You've taken some beautiful photos, especially that geranium. Glad you had a good day, it made for a lovely post. CJ xx

    1. Thanks Cj it was a great day. You're very welcome to join in with Shows of Hands too, if you fancy posting something on your blog :-)

  3. Hi there
    Reading this for first time on smart phone - very flash how the blog works on that.
    Speak soon.

    1. Thanks Mark and lovely to see you - you've been very quiet lately!

  4. I love the installation, and the Show of Hands idea. Must blast through some work so that I can join in...

    1. Janet it would be lovely to see your contribution - perhaps you can combine it with blasting through some work...


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