When I firsts the David Harber and Savills Garden at the RHS Chelsea Show 2018, I just didn’t get the fuss. This particular show garden had large metal garden sculptures surrounded by planting. I had approached the garden from the side and it seemed disjointed to me. The metal garden ornaments dominated the garden with their size and shape. I thought to myself that someone really liked their Corten and bronze garden sculptures. It was only when I went to the front of the garden that I thought – Wow!
According to British sculptor, David Harber, the artist behind all of the metal yard sculptures, these large outdoor sculptures are supposed to tell the story of how humans interact with their environment. A series of abstract outdoor sculptures, peel back like an onion focussing on a bronze outdoor sculpture resembling the sun in all of its life-giving glory.
An Immersive Theatre Experience
This garden is designed to be theatrical – so, of course, you need to approach it the right way. No one walks into the middle of a play and expects to understand it! That’s what I had effectively done when I saw this show garden from the side.
These unfolding metal garden ornaments also remind me of that other famous British icon – James Bond. In every movie, the opening sequence is followed by credits where the lens of the camera peels back and something comes into focus.
In the front of the garden, the metal garden sculptures start of small and then gradually increase in size as they unfurl further into the garden. You are not overwhelmed with a large abstract outdoor sculpture as you first look at the garden.
Bronze Garden Sculpture Seating
Among the metal garden sculptures, there is a winding path leading to a seating area. The bench is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional courting bench where two seats face in opposite directions so that you can converse but with limited opportunity for hanky panky.
In this garden’s context, this type of seating lets you admire the planting on one side and the reflection of the water curtain on the other. The bench has smooth Corian seating which contrasts with the bronze garden sculpture back which is verdigris and randomly patterned.
Harber would have us know that this random pattern is a reflection on the randomness of human thought and DNA. Pretty deep for a bronze outdoor sculpture!
Abstract Outdoor Sculpture Centrepiece
The piece de resistance of all these metal garden ornaments is the bronze garden sculpture called Aeon. There’s a verdigris bronze abstract outdoor sculpture surrounding 256 gilded aluminium spikes. Child-friendly it is not.
Harber wants you to know that Aeon represents the energy of life exploding from the beginning of time. I just thought it was cool and I loved the contrast of the gold against the verdigris bronze.
As you can see, the planting is naturalistic, free-flowing and lush. There are lots of grasses and perennials, including lupins, a favourite of the 2018 Chelsea show gardeners. Other plants included standard garden favourites such as foxgloves, geraniums, euonymus, euphorbia, violas, salvias and hostas.
This David Harber and Savills Garden is a perfect example of the big show gardens that the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is famous for – beautiful, creative and expensive. There are very few people who can recreate this at home. Not unless you wanted to spend a small fortune on metal garden sculptures and made sure no pets and/or children went into the space. On the other hand, isn’t it mesmerising how the eye is guided by the skilful use of viewpoints?
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