East and West - The Perfect Chemistry

A marriage of Chinese and Japanese art infused with atomic theory, is the exciting theme for From Laozi to Heisenberg - a delightful garden being created for the Malvern Spring Gardening Show, by promising new design talent, Keni Lee.

A garden of asymmetrically planted alpines, a Suiseki-inspired miniature garden and a circular arrangement of rocks are among the features of Keni's first show garden, which the Surrey-based designer plans to dedicate to his father who passed away last year.

Keni is one of 12 candidates competing for Malvern's 2011 Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship, sponsored by Bradstone. He is hoping to win a tailor-made package of specialist industry support designed to help him launch a career, and the priceless opportunity to work with award-winning garden designer and broadcaster, Chris, for a year.

'Atom' is this year's Scholarship theme and From Laozi to Heisenberg marries modern Chinese and Japanese landscape aesthetics based on the ancient view of matter and atoms contained in Daodejing - the defining work of the Chinese philosopher Laozi. The garden's philosophical underpinning is inspired by the convergence of classical and quantum-mechanical understanding of atomic theory.

The central unifying theme is a 'trinity of entities', or in modern vocabulary, proton, neutron and electron. This trinity is embodied in the garden by three circles and three species of alpines (Saxifraga, Sedum and Thymus, for example).

Intended as a suburban space, it is entered through a small, courtyard garden planted with alpines in asymmetrically placed raised planters, which in turn, leads through a circular doorway in a white wall to the main garden with a circular water feature feeding into a circular pond. Main garden planting includes a bamboo grove and other marginal plants.

"My father, who passed away during the development of this design last Autumn, was a Malaysian of Chinese extraction and was extremely proud of his Chinese roots", says Keni, "but I was brought up and educated in the European tradition, and having spent almost a decade of my life in France, my perspective has been strongly influenced by European history, tradition and philosophy.

In some ways, this garden reflects my relationship with my father, and hopefully represents an original convergence of horticulture and art and design, and a coming together of East and West."

Keni's Malvern garden will be judged by the Royal Horticultural Society alongside all the other show gardens,  but as part of the competition to win the Scholarship, he will also have to pitch to Chris and a panel of high profile judges, in the Show's 'Garden In Harmony Theatre' on Friday, 13 May.

The Malvern Spring Gardening Show takes place on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12 - 15 May. Other new attractions include Landscaping Live, the Country Living Pavilion, a Discovery Zone for younger gardeners and a vegetable box planting project in association with CARE Farming West Midlands.

For tickets and information, please visit the web site: www.threecounties.co.uk/springgardening or telephone the Showground on 01684 584924. For more information on the Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship, sponsored by Bradstone, please go to: www.bradstone.com/chrisbeardshaw.


Article posted on 28 Jan 2011.

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