Garden grown by social media is all a Twitter at Chelsea

Twitter will be in control of a unique digital garden at the 100th RHS Chelsea Flower Show. 

 Fresh garden Digital Capabilities will respond to live Twitter activity, enabling the public to directly influence how the garden appears at any one time.

 Created by academics at the University of Lincoln, UK, working with award-winning designers Harfleet & Harfleet, the garden will be divided diagonally by an autonomous-panelled screen which separates the planting of two distinct zones.

 A tapestry of familiar plants and foliage will greet visitors, with the partially obscured exotic planting behind the partition providing a dramatic contrast. The panelled screen will respond in real-time to the ‘buzz’ of excitement about RHS Chelsea Flower Show, as measured by activity on Twitter using the #rhschelsea tag, with the inner depths of the garden only being seen when public excitement is at its peaks.

 The project is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between academics from the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, School of Psychology and School of Architecture who are all involved in the development of the installation.

 Shaun Lawson, Professor of Social Computing at the University’s School of Computer Science, said: “One of the things we’re trying to do through our research is to understand how digital media can be made to meaningfully intersect with the physical world. The garden is an opportunity to explore aspects of how we can interweave social media data with real space, as well as how it is possible to make sense of this data by creating thought-provoking visualisations. When people tweet, the screen will activate by opening various panels and permitting selected views of the ‘concealed’ garden. The planting inside represents the exotic or unknown immaterial world of the internet, moderated and revealed by our desire for knowledge and interaction.”

 Head of Psychology at the University of Lincoln, Professor Harriet Gross, said: “I am interested in why gardens can be so important to our psychological well-being. Gardens often provide a space where people can think about things away from their day-to-day routines. They can also be places for public celebration and to share with friends and family. To reflect the variety of roles gardens can play in emotional and psychological well-being, our exhibit will contrast two distinct types of garden: one is familiar, available and safe. The other is hidden and exotic. Most importantly, the experience of the garden will be determined by people’s responses to it.”

Commissioned to provide the overall design is award-winning design duo Harfleet & Harfleet. Brothers Tom and Paul Harfleet share an interest in modern architecture and design innovation. Their first collaboration won an RHS Gold Medal and ‘Best Conceptual Garden’ at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2010.

 Designers Harfleet & Harfleet said: “We’re thrilled to be presenting at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. ‘Digital Capabilities’ is our first garden at the Show, made even more special as it’s the centenary year. The enthusiasm of staff and students at the University of Lincoln to realise this ambitious project has been inspiring. The whole process has been challenging and rewarding and has evolved into what we think will be a beautiful conceptual garden that represents the innovation in design that we are fascinated in.”

 Go to the project’s website at to find out more, follow the garden on Twitter @digcapabilities or tweet using #rhschelsea to get involved.

 The RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes place between 21st and 25th May 2013.

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