Entry 7 – Rachel Read from Colchester
The Perpetual Garden has a circular theme, inspired by the Olympic rings and the eternal properties of the circle. A cinder path (representative of the surface of a running track) winds down through a spiral of raised beds. These beds are high enough to be accessible by wheelchair and the deep, retaining walls can be used as continuous informal seating throughout the garden. The slope of the path is of a suitable gradient to allow access for those with limited mobility. Starting from the centre of the spiral, the smooth, curving wall of these beds forms the beginning of a time-line. Circular, gold-coloured plaques are embedded within it, each naming a British Olympic gold-medal winner & their event (also embossed in Braille). As a legacy for future generations, the spiral bed can be extended & subsequent Olympians achievements can be similarly recognised.
In recognition of the Olympic value of preventing discrimination of any kind, the planting scheme aims to include all colours from the spectrum of the colour wheel whilst incorporating species commonly found in many British gardens. I.e. Blue – Grape Hyacinths, Forget-me-nots, Bluebells, Delphiniums, Ceanothus. Fruit and vegetable growing has always been a strong feature of the nation’s gardens and these can be incorporated within the colour-themed areas, such as purple sprouting broccoli and red cabbage.
The north-facing area of the garden is planted with cool, green, shade-loving plants and a curved viewing platform extends out over this area. Made of a transparent material with drainage holes within it, views of the more colourful, south-facing area can be gained whilst light and water can still be acquired by the plants below. Tables and chairs can be dotted around this area under the shade of a nearby Pierre de Coubertin oak tree.
A central area of grass, strewn with daises is surrounded by a ring of moving water which is bridged in several places to allow access onto the grass. Once inside the area, the spectrum of colours can be appreciated to its fullest extent & a sense of security may be experienced as the garden wraps itself around the visitor. However, the area will be large enough to feel light, airy and spacious. Looking up the skyline will reveal an upright structure composed of a series of Olympic rings connected by single, larger circles which surrounds the boundary of the garden. This provides a framework for climbers with an open habit which maintains the visibility of the structure and from outside, allows glimpsed views of the garden within. From here, the sense of depth and perspective is enhanced by a series of Box balls (Buxus sempervrens topiary) which are graded in size, with the smallest down towards the centre of the garden. These are dotted throughout the planting area and also provide greater structure in the winter.
To ensure that the garden is sustainable, drainage grills run down the sides of the path and water is collected in a reservoir under the central lawn area. Solar panels provide power to pump the water around the water feature and up to the planting areas for irrigation.
The Perpetual Garden is an inclusive space symbolised by the use of plants with colours from the entire spectrum and allows access to everyone. A major feature is the use of a huge array of different plants (including a Pierre de Coubertin oak tree) which are evident in British garden lovers own domestic settings. It is sustainable and leaves a legacy which can be perpetuated as future Olympic events are held.