As Diarmuid Gavin said "A garden is to be enjoyed and if it makes people smile, all the better." Diarmuid's own garden at The Chelsea Flower Show 2004 certainly did just that and it was our intention that the Sound Garden should do much the same.
Concept - Scavenge and Recycle.
The various features of the garden mirror the emotions one might experience on a journey - a journey through a skip. We muddled through as ever with 2 lavenders, 3 runner beans, a couple of pink things that are possibly called Agapanthus and another spikey specimen. John found a wheelbarrow that had contained some kind of irremovable grunge and leant it against a tree. The fact that the true nature of the grunge is thus left up to the imagination of the viewer is a key feature in the design and one for which, it is believed, we were awarded extra points by the judges.
A prerequisite for the garden was a Water Feature and like in so much of the TV output at Chelsea this would be heard and not seen! Thus was born the Virtual and Interactive feature of the garden that was to add that element of surprise and delight for the visitor - a button labelled 'Do Not Press'
Irresistible? Certainly. Interactive? Barely. But charming all the same.
The Fx for the Water Feature were locally sourced, by Prue, from the garden of His Highness Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan. Were the judges influenced by the memory of our design when they awarded that garden, Hortus Conclusus, ‘The Best In Show’ this year?
The added birdsong; an interwoven blanket, a cacophony of enchantment, were the combined choral craftwork of Rob, Rob and Luke.
The delicate bringing together of: Push-button, Minidisc Player and Loudspeaker, entwined by the many hundreds of feet of cable, and a 25-way D-Type, was by Colin.
From the sound came the original title: “Shh....”. Reminiscent not only of the Chelsea output, but also alluding to some of those wonderful recordings we have all previously made which were originally designed to have some kind of sound on them but all too often didn’t.
Paul added his inimitable touch by adding a “c”, evoking visions of the Gin & Tonic of which we were all so in need – thus it became “Schh....”. Paul also drew the concept diagram which, like many a good planning-sheet, bore little resemblance to reality. We pinned it up anyway.
The sign stating “Buy Diarmuid’s, get this one Free” was a triumph of design as it added that much needed touch of commercialism to tie the whole together. It was also useful in covering up a rather ugly stain.
Everybody in the crew contributed something, if only by standing in the crew photograph and looking menacing (you know who you are!)
Alan was particularly impressed by the design team's attention to detail - all the plants were labelled with 'Latin' names; Canuearus silencio; Fiberus disconnectus; Stewardus Sud Africanus; etc; etc. - and the fact that, although sound people and not really concerned with pictures, we had come up with a design that was so visually appealing.
A major factor that helped to sway the judges decision was the Virtual Interactive Water Feature.
Next year expect to see many more gardens incorporate an Interactive element into them.
When you do - remember where you saw it first.
The Chelsea Flower Show is a large complex OB, a collection of pre-recorded and live items are produced for 2 transmissions each day. There are a number of PSC units wandering freely about the show, their tapes go back to the BBC Compound to be edited for inclusion in the programmes. The major multi-camera production is controlled from the OB Unit itself. This means that there is a large network of cables around the showground all terminating at the scanner - both for Cameras and Sound. At the remote end of these cables is a Sound Trolley. This comprises a collection of Radio Mic Receivers, a Foldback Speaker, a Vision Monitor, etc. There are 3 of these; Trolleys A, B, and C. Our Garden had Trolley D at its centre - a wheelbarrow - quite appropriate as the Riggers referred to the Sound Operators as Barrow Boys.
Competition from other sections included: Riggers - "Riggers Ruin", Runners - "Where's Diarmuid?", and Avid Editors - "Out of Time". The Vision Garden included a Gnome so was instantly disqualified. VT withdrew due to ill health and over work! The Camera Dept. failed to enter!