Connacht Tribune - Opinion Piece
Gavin unveils Chelsea’s tribute to Ireland’s ghost estatesMay 30, 2012 - 8:38am
The recent Chelsea Flower Show featured the event’s first phallic garden – our own Diarmuid Gavin decided to go up instead of out with his effort wrapped around enough scaffolding for a small estate.
And while he hadn’t intended it as such, this might well serve as a lasting symbol to Celtic Tiger Ireland – because it looked like every half-finished ghost estate scattered willy nilly around the country.
Think of it – scaffolding covered in greenery towering into the skyline. All they needed was a series of gaping potholes and a couple of unfinished paths and they could have called it Leitrim.
This year’s award-winning effort has alternatively been described as a magic pyramid or tower – 80 feet tall with seven floors, each with a different theme.
On the first floor is a miniature gentlemen’s clubroom, looking out onto a Japanese terrace. The second floor has flowers while the next floor has a greenhouse, a cold frame and a vegetable patch, grown in raised beds, and as you go on it features a lift, a cafe, a helter skelter and greenhouses among its 5,000 plants and trees.
But unlike a NAMA estate it doesn’t have discarded pallets, broken street lights, ten foot high weeds, open manholes or see-saws made out of planks on top of concrete blocks.
The judges gave him two awards for his efforts this year, although he appears to be less than enamoured with that recognition.
“I don’t really care about medals - that’s not why I do the Chelsea Flower Show,” he said, completely flying the face of the entire purpose of the show.
However it’s what happens to his Magical Tower next that really matters – because it’s not every three-bed semi that wants an 80 foot high garden outside the kitchen window.
Last year it was the Sky Garden that ultimately nearly brought its owners, Cork City Council, crashing down to earth; before that his Westland Garden featured two garden studios, a ‘his and hers’ design for an active artistic couple.
The Sky Garden – to the uninitiated, a garden with another one swinging from a crane high in over the ground – cost the taxpayer around €2 million, what with Tourism Ireland trousering up €1.7 million and Cork City Council somehow managing to find the balance despite cuts to staffing and services.
Of course, all of these things shouldn’t interfere with the train of thought of an artist who can dream up a seven-storey garden or one that swings in the wind high in the sky – that should be the lot of mere mortals who cannot think beyond weeding and mowing the lawn.
Diarmuid has, literally, a higher calling although the only way he c
an now go any higher is by dangling the entire edifice from the under-carriage of an aeroplane.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.