2013 Travel Diary #16: Suncheon Garden Expo — The Lugworm’s Trail

An aerial view of the Lugworm's Trail Garden
An aerial view of the Lugworm’s Trail Garden

Suncheon-si, Tuesday 10 September, 10am. Like many areas of the Suncheon Garden Expo, Hwang Ji-hae’s garden, which was the main reason for my coming to Suncheon in the first place, also limits its reliance on floral colour. Looked at from above, or viewed from the source of the water (top left of above image) which runs through the plot to feed the Lake Garden, it is shaped like a leaf, its veins formed by the ridges, paths and other distinctive structural features. But in fact the veins are meant to be a three-dimensional representation of the trail left by a lugworm as it wriggles its way across the Suncheon mudflats. The lugworm is an indispensable part of the Suncheon ecosystem, being the first line of defence against pollutants in the tidal area.

Lugworms (Source)

The plot occupies a huge area, around 45,000 square metres including an adjacent performance area (the “mudflat stage”), which is more than 100 times the size of a typical show garden at Chelsea. Typically of Hwang’s naturalistic desings, it is difficult to find a spot from which to take in a view of the garden as a whole, and even more difficult to capture a definitive view on camera. Instead, one is encouraged to walk around enjoying vistas which constantly change, and to be surprised by the unexpected features: a little green worm here, some ceramics embedded in a bench there, and other little touches which will bring a smile to the face.

Inside the gallery / library
Inside the gallery / library

The central structure of the garden is a worm-shaped library and gallery which provides shade from the intense heat. On one edge of the site is another shaded worm-shaped structure called the Mousehole Café, entered through low mousehole-shaped openings in the curved wall which force you to stoop as you enter. As you take your refreshment you are invited to write messages on the whitewashed interior.

One of the sculptures using recycled materials
One of the sculptures using recycled materials

Similar to her other gardens there are sculptural features often made out of recycled materials giving the composition a sense of fun. For horticultural interest, the design relies more on foliage than flowers, and the careful placement of her planting make it look as if the garden has been there for year – a trademark of her designs. Nevertheless, the planting will likely change over time: the generous budget would not cover everything she wanted, and if funds allow in future she will plant more trees, providing a greater amount of shade. Nevertheless, the garden seems complete as it is. And even without the additional trees it can therefore be enjoyed all the year round, like the adjacent Lake Garden.


4-5 Sept Arrival
Introduction | 1 – Leaving London | 2 – Arrival in Sancheong
6 Sept The International Traditional Medicine Expo, day 1
3 – Preparing for the Expo | 4 – Honouring the spirits, feeling the gi | 5 – The official duties
7 Sept Sancheong’s finest potter, and the start of the hike
6 – An editing project is born | 7 – Min Young-ki’s new directions | 8 – Prayers to the Sanshin
8 Sept Jirisan
9 – Sunrise on Cheonwangbong | 10 – Breakfast at Beopgyesa | 11 – Mother Mago, the Goddess of Jirisan
9 Sept Sancheong, Gwangyang and Suncheon
12 – The recreation forest, and getting to know the Expo | 13 – The Sancheong Oriental Medicinal Herb Institute | 14 – Gwangyang and the journey into Jeollanamdo
10 Sept Suncheon International Garden Expo and arrival at Unjusa
15 – The Suncheon Lake Garden | 16 – Hwang Ji-hae’s The Lugworm’s Trail | 17 – Kang Ik-joong’s Bridge of Dreams | 18 – The Korean Garden | 19 – Mosquitoes at Unjusa
11 Sept Unjusa and back to the Sancheong Traditional Medicine Expo
20 – The temple of a thousand pagodas | 21 – Return to Sancheong | 22 – Tiger, Bear and herb: the traditional Korean medicine experience | 23 – The pillow of eternal youth | 24 – Yin, Yang and Ginseng
12 Sept More time at the Traditional Medicine Expo
25 – The Hallyu 4.0 Experience | 26 – The first round of farewells
13 Sept Sancheong and Hongdae in one day
27 – Last day at the Expo | 28 – Clubbing with the CFOs
14 Sept The Galleries and Museums
29 – Korea Artist Prize 2013 | 30 – New Connections | 31 – We are all heroes: Baseball and the Bull at Seoul Museum | 32 – The Seokpajeong: a haven of peace in Buamdong | 33 – An evening in Daehakro
15 Sept The Sajik Daeje
34 – The Gods of Land and Grain | 35 – Renewing old friendships
16 Sept Return to London
36 – The royal perambulation | Thank-yous

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.