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What has technology got to do with gardening?

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Nigel Jones Nigel Jones | 16:00 UK time, Wednesday, 6 July 2011

With the RHS using its shows to promote 'grow your own' and the value of artisan crafts, you would be forgiven for thinking that it sees horticulture and garden design as something that should be inspired by an old episode of The Good Life. However, like Glastonbury last week, the RHS appreciates that progress cannot be ignored and so its shows cater to diverse tastes. Who would have thought that Glastonbury would welcome Beyonce? And who would have thought that the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show would feature an underground garden, an upside down garden and a garden in the dark?

My Life in the Cloud conceptual garden

My Life in the Cloud conceptual garden

As with Glastonbury's acts playing many stages and tents, so the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show has its garden designer line up building gardens in a number of categories. One of my designs, 'My Life in the Cloud', is appearing in the Conceptual Gardens category. Whilst not expecting any of my fellow Conceptual Garden entrants to shake it like Beyonce, or be installed on a throne like Jessie J, there will be much to inspire and, hopefully, stimulate debate. Many questioned Beyonce headlining Glastonbury, but her appearance got people talking. Likewise, I'm sure some of Hampton Court's Conceptual Gardens will have people shaking their heads, but the gardens will be thought provoking. Hopefully, they may also start a few arguments.

My garden is inspired by the internet in general and, in particular, the growing tendency to put our personal information online. I was involved in cloud based computing right at the start as a Google old timer, before Facebook was even conceived and way before our current government started talking about putting all our medical records online. As such, I've had time to give it a little thought. I was always excited by the potential of being able to access all my information from anywhere via the internet, but wary of the implications. If I can see my medical and financial records wherever I am, who (apart from my doctor and bank) I would also be comfortable logging on to see them.

My garden seeks to explore this conundrum; how do I achieve the accessibility and transparency I want without losing the degree of privacy I want to protect? The centrepiece of my garden is a large, partially transparent box which appears to float above the planting. In the box are examples of my personal information. From most sides that information is tantalisingly hidden behind three silvery White beams. However, for those I allow to see the information, inviting limestone steps climb a planted slope to give a closer view.

My Life in the Cloud conceptual garden

"The centrepiece of my garden is a large, partially transparent box which appears to float above the planting."

And there is horticulture too - lush meadow, ferns, topiary, wildflowers and planting for exposed limestone slopes. Hopefully, a little something for everyone.

I am inspired by technology. I love gardening. I am passionate about design. I hope that my garden successfully combines all three.

Nigel Jones is the owner of Medlar & Cob Landscape and Garden Design.


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