Two years ago at the Chelsea Flower Show Hay Joung Hwang teamed up with LG to showcase how technology can be used to maximise the benefits from an urban garden – from lighting to smart sensors to monitor the moisture and nutrients in the soil. Encouraged by the silver gilt awarded to the garden, the same team returned this year with a more ambitious application of technology and know-how.
The result is the LG Eco-City Garden, a creation that can be enjoyed on many levels: first and foremost of course, as a garden design. The soft, romantic, traditional planting which contrasts with the contemporary geometry of the kitchen and seating area; the still water that gives a sense of peace; the sunken seating area which gives a feeling of seclusion; the unified colour palette which brings together the various elements; and the choice of colour itself. This is the time of year that purples, pinks and mauves are common – indeed they featured prominently in Hwang’s 2016 LG Smart Garden. Hwang’s choice this year of yellows and oranges brought a freshness to her design which seemed to catch the visitors’ imagination, giving a sense of summery optimism. The planting design, which featured lupins, foxgloves and aquilegia among others, was inspired by Hwang’s studies as a florist, combining different colours, textures and heights, like a sophisticated flower arrangement.
Apart from the design itself, the garden can be appreciated for the ideas behind it. First, sustainability and ecology: the garden – including the lights and the appliances in kitchen area – is powered by the solar glass in the roof of the kitchen area at the end of the garden. The indoor vertical aquaponic herb garden grows using only water and fish waste recycled from the pond, providing flavour for food as well as purifying the air.
Finally the garden is designed with air quality in mind. High levels of particulate matter is increasingly an urban problem: Seoul and London are both known for their bad air pollution. The trees in Hwang’s garden were selected for their ability to filter or absorb these particles; but according to Hwang 12 square metres of the right kind of moss moss can provide more environmental benefit than 275 trees, hence the extensive use of moss as ground cover in the garden. Most visitors appreciated the moss, though, for its inherent beauty – in the evening light its undulations were particularly appealing. Equally appealing was the ground cover at the front of the garden surrounding the first concrete stepping stones: a carpet of camomile with Corsican mint and heath pearlwort.
Hwang’s vision is that her design could be replicated in a development of high-rise apartments – though in order to give each garden sufficient natural light (either to enable the plants to grow naturally or to power the solar panels to provide additional artificial light) there would have to be compromises as to the height to which such a development could reach.
Hwang’s vision got awarded silver gilt by the judges, though many thought it deserved a coveted gold. Congratulations are due for an urban garden which gives ideas for sustainability and fresh air to enhance our cities of the future through technology and expert plantsmanship.
- Getting to know Hay Joung Hwang – LG website, 3 May 2018
- HI-MACS® at ‘eco-city’ garden for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018
- A thoughtful review by Dan Cooper, the Frustrated Gardener
Photos by LKL (Mrs G to be precise) except where credited otherwise: