Garden highlighted urban growing benefits

Tom Dixon and IKEA teamed up to bring grow-your-own to the heart of city living

Tom Dixon X IKEA Gardening Will Save The WorldQuestions over food production and sustainability continue to crop up as the world’s population booms. A predicted 9.8 billion people will be calling earth home by 2050 and, with an estimated 8% of the world’s population already living in extreme poverty, concerns surrounding food supply continue to grow.

One team providing a response to this growing crisis is IKEA and British designer Tom Dixon, who joined forces at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 with their Show Garden, Gardening Will Save the World.

Set over two levels, the garden explored traditional methods of planting, alongside more futuristic systems for growing food.

“The garden looks at two big conversations that are currently going on in the gardening world,” said Tom Dixon, who's best known for designing furniture and lighting. “The top layer is a wild garden grown using traditional methods. The plants will be functional and edible, with health benefits. There’ll be more than 300 plants, including sage, thyme, wild celery and horse radish.

“Meanwhile, the ground level of the garden will be a contemporary underworld of technology.”

Urban gardening

Inside the Great PavilionIn a first for the Chelsea Flower Show, Gardening Will Save the World allowed visitors to explore the garden from all angles and was the first Show Garden located in the Great Pavilion.

“People will be able to walk up and over the garden, as well as under and through the middle,” explained Tom.

At first glance, visitors saw a hillside landscape, made up of fruit and nut trees and natural, wild planting. Walking up a cork staircase (chosen for its flexibility, sustainability and environmental benefits), visitors became fully immersed in the garden’s canopy. Here, planted crates full of edible plants were grown to maximise yield from a small space. This intensive way of gardening is ideal for urban homes, providing inspiration for even the smallest of spaces.

"Allowing visitors into the garden to see the planting, technology and design up close will hopefully inspire them to see how they might make their own positive impact through urban growing," said Rose Gore Browne, Show Manager of Chelsea.

"As the first judged garden in the Great Pavilion, it's great to see Tom Dixon and IKEA using this space to tackle such an important issue."

On the ground floor 

Cress growing at Tom Dixon's restaurant, The Coal OfficeOnce visitors finished exploring the leafy canopy of the garden, they could step into a hidden urban laboratory below and find plants thriving without soil and sunlight. Rows upon rows of edibles were bathed in warm pink lights and grown using hydroponic technology – a method that grows plants using just water.

This is where IKEA stepped in. The company first dabbled with the idea of hydroponics and indoor gardening back in 2016 when they released a small-scale system that gave people the opportunity to grow plants indoors.

The Chelsea garden worked as a prototype for IKEA’s future projects and allowed the team to test their technology on a scalable infrastructure.

“Increasing numbers of people are choosing hydroponics to grow plants in city farms,” added Tom. “We want this garden to show that you can use this technology to easily grow things at speed that also have a function.”

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.