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Gardening in circles

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Copy of kay Chelsea 4 - Seated glory

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Circular garden seating spaces blend into the landscape, creating a peaceful sitting area. Picture: Kay Montgomery

Visit the greatest horticultural show in the world in May. Join the 18th annual seven-day tour to the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show (May 19-26) and show your support for the Kirstenbosch team who will be building the SA stand.

A highlight of the tour will be meeting the Kirstenbosch team competing at this most famous London gardening extravaganza. Enjoy a private VIP tour of Chelsea with gold medal-winning designer David Davidson and join him for a Champagne breakfast. Then celebrate the launch of the SA exhibit over cocktails at the SA high commission in Trafalgar Square.

Why are people so interested to see Chelsea at least once in their lifetime?

Like the Olympics, it represents the highest level of international competition for landscape designers and horticulturists from across the world. It is the epicentre of the latest trends, hottest fashions and most creative gardens.

It is also a showcase for contemporary design and demonstrates how the brightest and most creative of the generation combine plants, colours, decor, concrete, wood, metal and water to produce works of art in the garden.

Circles in the garden:

Copy of kay Chelsea 8 - Elevations

Overlapping circles of concrete create levels in a garden. Picture: Kay Montgomery

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One of the most prominent themes at the Chelsea Flower Show in recent years has been the use of the circle in garden designs. Curves, dots and circle motifs have been woven into the planning and design of countless exhibits.

The Cancer Association has used the circle concept in every exhibit they have ever launched at Chelsea, and designers are invited to submit their ideas annually.

Within gardens, circles may be interpreted as stone and pebble features, while patterns of circles on a patio are often reflected in textiles and ceramics.

The circle of design is a never-ending evolving process. Even when “old themes” are revisited, such as in the current retro design trend, newness, a twist or a turn in design is the nature of the creative spirit.

When used in water features, circles or spheres add a calm and restful tone.

Symbolic sanctuaries:

Circles are often used as the basis of a spiritual or sanctuary garden. As an ancient emblem of nature, the circle reminds one of the circle of life and offers a way of reconnecting with the environment.

The circle and its three- dimensional equivalent, the sphere, is the most enduring and profound of all symbols. It is an emblem for the relationship between humankind and the whole of nature, as well as the sign of ultimate wholeness.

One of the most modern circle symbols to enter the mind of mankind is the evocative photograph of Earth taken from outer space – the beautiful blue-green planet on which we live.

For millennia, the sun was central to the religion and mythology of virtually all people the world over, and the circle was a sacred symbol – and quite rightly so. Without the warmth of the sun, as well the vital photosynthesis of light by plants, life as we know it cannot exist on planet Earth.

Churches, temples and mosques use circles in the paved motifs of their floors, the Italians build piazzas based on the circle, and the Japanese drew circles and lines in the sands of their Zen gardens. Native Americans and the Tswana chiefdom in Mafikeng used the powerful circle shape in their outdoor council ring or cabinet meetings (lekgotla) to discuss important issues.

The large round room beneath the dome of many government buildings echoes the idea.

Division of the circle in a variety of ways is a sacred symbol in many belief systems.

One of the most ancient is the idea of two halves, a dark and a light. The Chinese call two opposites yin and yang, and use the concept in feng shui. A divided circle also occurs as a meditation emblem in many eastern religions, where it is known as a mandala.

The rose windows of cathedrals and mosques are also essentially divisions of the circle.

Circles in your garden:

Today, it is easier than ever to include circles and spheres in your garden design.

Whether installed as symbolic circles and spheres in your outdoor sanctuary, or done as merely attractive pieces of art, circles are an asset to every garden.

Spheres in the garden are usually made of materials such as wood or stone, but explore the possibilities offered by terracotta, ceramics, metal and glass as well.

Install a circular mirror pond, build a labyrinth in a circular area that was once a lawn, overlay circular borders to create a raised flower-bed feature, or build a circular patio at the end of the garden, screened off by glorious shrubs.

Install a hammock and you have the perfect place for contemplating nature.

* Are you interested in seeing a host of contemporary design ideas by the world’s most influential young landscape designers?

Join the 18th annual seven-day tour supporting the Kirstenbosch team to the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show (departs May 19).

Contact Gillian at 021 683 2838/083 261 3961, or e-mail her at gdurrant@aerlingus.co.za.


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