There is always one garden at Chelsea each year that speaks to me (via the internet) above the onslaught of perennials, water features and topiary. Last year it was the Diarmuid Gavin’s green & hot pink vision of Ireland, and this year it’s the Quiet Time: DMZ Forbidden garden, designed by Jihae Hwang.
Created to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean conflict, this garden makes use of the vast treasure trove of indigenous plants that have thrived in the almost pristine conditions in the sanctuary of the demilitarised zone (DMZ). The design highlights the tensions and lasting effects of the conflict.
The barbed wire fence surrounding the garden creates a feeling of mystery and unease. Carefully considered installations feature the remains of warfare, including defensive walls, trenches and charred trees. The fence is hung with cans and bottles containing letters from separated families and friends to illustrate the sense of longing felt by people kept apart by the conflict.
The watch tower reminds visitors of the surveillance of the DMZ and also provides an observation point for the garden. A memorial chair commemorates war veterans and victims. A stream flows through the garden, defying the barriers of human conflict and depicting the feelings of love and tension that the designer believes co-exist in the DMZ. www.rhs.org.uk
To me, this is whole point of gardens: to communicate traces of human existence and experience. I wish I was in London to see it in person, but I’ll settle for some quiet time with the images. HF.