International Year of Light inspires Tatton Park gardens

Three gardens at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park on 22-26 July will champion the International Year of Light (IYL), which was set up by the United Nations to highlight the vital role light plays in providing solutions to global challenges.

Quantum of Light by Leon Davis
Quantum of Light by Leon Davis

The UN proclaimed 2015 as the IYL to promote improved public and political understanding of light in the modern world and three garden designers are exploring elements of light-based science at Tatton Park.

Light Catcher by Cheshire designer Sharon Hockenhull will offer visitors an opportunity to see how natural light can be captured and harnessed in the garden setting to create drama and ambience. By using a range of materials chosen for their reflective, diffusive and fluctuating qualities, the designer’s aim is to create a visually reactive, contemplative space to rest and pass through, symbolising a celebration of our collective and unifying experiences of light.

Manchester-based Leon Davis’ garden design is inspired by a computer-generated image from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Titled Quantum of Light, the garden acts as a visual interpretation of the moment an atom is energised following a particle collision, emitting photons which are particles representing a quantum of light. A colour palette of red, blue and yellow flowering plants will create a dynamic 'energy flash' which will radiate from a central concrete core. Hard landscape materials of steel and concrete have been chosen to symbolise industrial processes used to create the event.

Reflecting Photonics by designer trio Helen Elks-Smith, Kate Hart and Helen Parsons demonstrates the research into optical fibre conducted by the world leading Optoelectronics Research Centre based at the University of Southampton. The pavilion and roof reflect a holey fibre structure, with fibre-optic glass ‘drops’ (created as part of the fibre fabrication process) set into the floor, allowing the wave-form in the path to act as a metaphor for how light refracts along the fibres. Perspex rods within the landform reference the ‘preforms’ of the fibre product laid in the earth, which grow during the fibre ‘drawing’ process to provide the final communication pathways seen at the surface.

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park show manager Kris Hulewicz said: "We are delighted to have these remarkable gardens at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, which help portray the important messages of the UN’s International Year of Light initiative. RHS Tatton prides itself on being a platform for new and exciting ideas, and this year is no different."

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