Designer Interview Harrods
Diarmuid Gavin - My Chelsea Flower Show
Diarmuid Gavin’s Chelsea exhibits are always unpredictable and inventive and this year is no different, with his Harrods Eccentrics British Garden, which promises action and entertainment in garden form. RHS Online talked to him about his plans for what promises to be a Chelsea showstopper.
Did Harrods give you a brief and how did you go about converting what they wanted into a garden?
Yes, very definitely, they wanted a British garden, which I was delighted with, but also perplexed because I couldn’t work out how to meet the brief and make it one of ‘my’ gardens. Then, last year at the Hampton Court Flower Show, I saw something that made me think of Heath Robinson and I instantly knew that was the answer.
Why do you think the Heath Robinson idea works for you?
His work represents a certain tradition of British eccentricity, humour, thoughtfulness and story-telling harking back to what was for me a captivating period of early 20th century British life – the PG Wodehouse era if you like – which gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling that I thought could be embodied in a show garden full of madcap horticultural contraptions.
Is there a message for visitors who come to see your garden?
Yes, slow down when you get there and just wait for the fun to start!
Why did Harrods choose you to make their show garden?
It might seem slightly odd choosing an Irishman to make a British garden but I have a long tradition of working with Harrods, and recently I’ve begun creating a series of gardens in hidden places within the store, so I know the store very well. I’m also working with them on a new venture called Harrods Gardens, which offers garden design to any client around the world. This is in keeping with the idea that you can buy anything you want from Harrods.
Have you managed to smuggle any Irishness into the garden?
I don’t think it’s so easy to make a distinction these days between Britishness and Irishnesss, but I think there is a lyrical quality to the garden that sits well with the Irish and of course we have the fabulous Helen Dillon, the queen of Irish gardening, who will be planting with us.
Are you on top of this project?
Totally. I think it’s important to appreciate the fact that you’ve been given a space, a budget, an audience and the opportunity to say something new at the most prestigious gardening show on earth, and you have an obligation to step up to the mark and do your job, which as I see it is to entertain.