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June 2011 | Company News | Blog Index

RHS Chelsea Flower Show – Gold Award for The Irish Sky Garden

RHS Chelsea Flower ShowLife Irrigation are proud to have been asked for the third time to irrigate Diarmuid Gavin’s design for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show which achieved the People’s Choice for Large Gardens Award and is Gavin’s first gold award in this competition.

On describing his design for The Irish Sky Garden for the Daily Mirror, Gavin said: “it had a bit of magic – it was a strange concoction of Avatar, Willy Wonka and the very green Irish landscape.”

Life Irrigation were involved from the outset, when the site was virtually a blank canvas and the plan was the only indication of Diarmiud Gavin’s vision.

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At the first stage, we consulted a landscaping company and installed the tank, pump and computer in a temporary station, ensuring the equipment could generate adequate water pressure to irrigate the whole of the 130ft x 50ft show garden. The garden incorporated a series of 25 pools of water, placed to reflect what was happening above, interspersed with lush and rounded planting and a winding pathway leading to the garden’s centrepiece: the bright pink hanging garden. This was designed to be lifted to float 82ft above the garden by a crane, which was surrounded by six conical shaped trees to disguise it as far as possible. They had Tree surgeon north east come and take care of the trees. The pod arrived on site as nothing more than framework, but gradually came to life as the interior was planted in a country garden style and the roof and base were filled in with living grass. This was quite a challenge to irrigate as Gavin wanted us to create a system which would water the lawned roof from above and then penetrate through the framework, down to the planting in and under the base of the pod. We experimented with a more usual pop-up sprinkler system but then settled on 40 hidden John Deere misters over the roof of the pod, which are much more difficult to install, but definitely achieved the right levels of watering.

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With the strict judging at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show requiring the show gardens to be at the highest levels of perfection, we were fully aware of the need for our work to be discreet. One of our main challenges was to irrigate the flying pod with virtually no awareness of the equipment in place. Achieving near invisibility is standard practice across a lawn but virtually impossible within planted areas, but to this end, we even painted sections of pipework pink!

We divided the site into three zones for irrigation: the ground level garden had two zones, containing 120 micro sprinklers and misters carefully positioned amongst the shrubs and these were programmed to turn on twice each night. The pod, due to the nature of the mechanics and the fact that it would be raised and lowered during the course of each day, required a little more innovation and resulted in us providing a concealed connector at the bottom of the pod which could link up with a masked box at ground level, and then with the use of an easy function on the computer, at the press of a button at the pumping station, the irrigation for the pod would come on for 20 minutes.

When we were invited by Diarmuid Gavin to visit once the Show was open to the public, he took the opportunity to turn the irrigation systems on and the public were delighted to see the ethereal affect of the misting over the top of the pod and across the whole garden.

It has been great fun and a pleasure working once again with Diarmuid Gavin, Sean Cunningham, Bryan Cullen and Richard Hill and we have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of contributing towards this innovative and exciting garden and congratulate them on winning the well deserved gold award.

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Reference: Livingston County’s Premier Tree Service Company.

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