The exhibit for the 2018 Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show is on display at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show will take place in London next month.Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
The exhibit for the 2018 Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show is on display at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show will take place in London next month.Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

New team keeps Kirstenbosch blooming

By Dominic Adriaanse Time of article published Apr 19, 2018

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The end of an era was celebrated at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden yesterday, as its multiple award-winning design team of David Davidson and Ray Hudson handed over the baton to a new team of creatives.

The duo had an unprecedented 24-year run creating the annual Kirstenbosch-South Africa exhibit at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show.

Leon Kluge and his incoming team will exhibit their design at the flower show next month.

Considered the Olympics of gardening, the five-day Chelsea Flower Show draws more than 160000 visitors to the grounds of Chelsea’s Royal Hospital in London.

“There was some question whether the tradition would carry on, and it’s nice to know that it will continue. This is very hard work and Leon is more than capable of carrying the torch, having been part of our team in previous years,” Davidson said.

About 600 designs will be on show, with some of best garden designers from across the world competing.

Hudson said Kluge and his team needed no advice from the two of them going forward.

“Leon is a skilled designer and has done many international shows already.

“This really is it for me. I am a landscape artist, which takes all my time now, and I will be continuing with that,” said Hudson.

The two have claimed 18 RHS gold medals and several additional awards, including the RHS president’s most creative award introduced in 2008 and last year the prestigious RHS president’s award.

Kluge said he developed a love for plants because his father was a designer for the Free State National Botanical Garden.

“I’ve only ever had two mentors, my father and David, who took me under his wing and showed me the ropes of show gardening.

“It’s an extreme honour to step into the shoes of David and Ray, a force to be reckoned with, and I am deeply honoured,” said Kluge.

The design that will be showcased this year was partly inspired by a visit to Lookout Hill in Khayelitsha, where Kluge was photographing arum lilies against the backdrop of the township.

This was a different side of Cape Town, with beauty they wanted to show to the world.

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