Kirstenbosch-South Africa exhibit for Chelsea unveiled

Kirstenbosch-South Africa exhibit for Chelsea unveiled


Nature’s Golden Ratio is the inspiration behind South Africa’s exhibit which aims to collect its 29th gold medal at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show which takes place in London from May 22 to May 26.

The Kirstenbosch-South Africa exhibit, co-ordinated by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and sponsored by First National Bank (FNB), was designed by David Davidson and Raymond Hudson in collaboration with Durban-based Obbligato, manufacturers of contemporary plant pots and garden furniture.
“The Fibonacci series, familiar to architects and artists as the Golden Ratio, can be found everywhere in nature, from the empty flower head of a Protea, to the seed arrangement of a Sunflower,” said Davidson. “The spiral pattern forms ocean currents; orders the pattern of stampeding deer and guides the upward path of a flying-ant towards the light. It gives a mollusc shell its structure, a peacock's tail its enticing allure and a spider's web its fatal snare.”

The exhibit, entitled Abstracts from Nature, also features various components symbolising the four natural elements, for which Craig and Angela Bax of Obbligato have handcrafted four mosaic pots to represent earth, wind, fire and water. 

Umcebo Trust, a non-profit organisation which assists people with special needs to develop their artistic talents and to generate an income and the Woza Moya income generation project for people affected and infected by HIV, both based in KwaZulu-Natal, are also collaborating on the project to create four specimenplants made entirely from beads, to compliment the mosaic pots.

“When you think about these four elements and the fluctuations in these elements your mind quickly turns to some of the environmental issues facing us today,” said Davidson. “One of the most topical is climate change and its affect on the earth’s habitats and resources. We hope the garden is a visual stimulus to people to think about the fragile balance of nature which is threatened by seasonal fluctuations.”

Plants used in the exhibit for Chelsea are all indigenous to South Africa, but because some are annuals, usually flowering in Spring in South Africa, these plants will be sourced from Keintzler, plant growers in Germany. South African plants have long been cultivated abroad and many species including Osteospermum, Diascia, Nemesia, Helichrysum and Sutera have become a common sight in Europe.

Brett Erasmus, Head of Segment Marketing at sponsor First National Bank, said “FNB is immensely proud to assist in ensuring that our wonderful floral heritage is once again in line to win gold at the ‘Floral Olympics’. This exhibit has done the country proud over many years and has also done a significant amount to promote tourism – the lifeblood to many in our special corner of the planet. We are absolutely delighted that we are able to bring this exhibit back home in July so that many more South Africans can be dazzled by this outstanding example of creative brilliance.”

Sunjit Singh, acting chief executive officer of SANBI, said “SANBI is proud of the gold-medal winning tradition of the Kirstenbosch Exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show and we look forward to seeing what magic David Davidson and Raymond Hudson have conjured up for 2007.  The Chelsea Flower Show gives us a golden opportunity to display the floral beauty of South Africa to the world, and to give tourists more good reasons to visit our country and our beautiful National Botanical Gardens.”

South Africans not heading to London will be able to enjoy the exhibit when it is recreated courtesy of First National Bank at the Garden World Spring Fair in Gauteng (July 27 to September 2), the Sunday Tribune Garden & Leisure Show in Pietermaritzburg (October 5 to October 7) and the South African Airways Cape Town Flower Show at Lourensford Estate, Somerset West (October 24 to October 28).

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