Monday, 21 May 2012

Kirstenbosch takes London on floral journey of SA | The South African

by Paul Christopher Daniels

Most Capetonians have fond memories of Kirstenbosch Gardens, recalling many school trips. In later years those trips were less educational, often with three bottles of wine in tow and a picnic feast in preparation for a Summer Sunset Concert.

However, Kirstenbosch has left its mark internationally for other reasons. For the past 36 years they have exhibited and won awards at the Chelsea Flower Show, considered the ‘Olympics of flower shows’. Thousands of visitors attend the show each year, including many UK-based South Africans who want a little reminder of home.

Designer David Davidson and the Kirstenbosch Chelsea Flower Show team stand proudly with their design.

Ahead of the show, we spoke to David Davidson, who has been designing the stand with Ray Hudson for nearly two decades:

How did you first get involved in designing Kirstenbosch’s displays at The Chelsea Flower Show?
As Head of Graphic Services for the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the design of shows and exhibitions was part of my portfolio. Keith Kirsten was a member of the Board at the time, and introduced Ray Hudson – a landscape designer from Johannesburg – as part of the team.

For nearly two decades you and Ray have designed the displays and won awards each year. Does it put a lot of pressure on you to keep the winning streak going?
For the past 19 years we have collaborated on the design. The expectations of the sponsors exert a certain pressure, but our passion for showcasing South Africa and its flora is paramount in creating exhibits that meet this objective. Top awards beget sponsorship but the wealth and diversity of our floral heritage is the primary inspiration.

How did you go about conceptualising your design for this year’s theme of ‘Gateways – a botanical journey’?
With so many biomes and so many visitor attractions in SA, we chose settings with the greatest visual appeal. The concept of gateways as a point of entry invites onlookers ‘beyond the garden wall’ into South Africa’s hinterland.

What is your favourite part of exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show? Is it still exciting to do each year?
The prospect is always daunting, but the exhilaration of being with hundreds of other exhibitors, all doing their very best, and paying homage to the plant kingdoms of the world, never ceases to excite and inspire.

Are you planning next year’s theme already?
Yes! Next year marks 100 years since the establishment of both Kirstenbosch and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. We look forward to celebrating a double centenary!

Capetonians are very fond of Kirstenbosch Gardens. What do you think makes Kirstenbosch so special?
Kirstenbosch is one of the top 10 botanical gardens in the world. It enjoys an incomparably beautiful setting against the slopes of Table Mountain, which is now one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, and provides a meeting place for people and plants. It was the first botanical garden in the world to display only indigenous plants and our floral wealth and diversity has been shared with the botanical world since its inception.

The Chelsea Flower Show takes place from 22-26 May at Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London, SW3 4SL. Tickets are priced from £16.


Supporting the Kirstenbosch team all the way!

No comments:

Post a Comment