Wuhan Inspires Chelsea Flower Show Garden

A China-themed garden at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show lets visitors experience the scenery of China’s Hubei province, and the water-managment system of Wuhan, its capital city.

The Wuhan Water Garden was designed by architect Laurie Chetwood and landscape architect Patrick Collins and was inspired by the contrasting natural landscape of the province and the high-tech urban environment of the city.

It celebrates Wuhan’s water-inspired culture and calls for sustained environmental action to protect nature.

Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, and his wife join other dignitaries to open the Wuhan Water Garden exhibit on Monday at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show in London. 

Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, who attended the opening of the exhibit, said it reflects Chinese people’s pursuit of beauty and harmony.

“I think there are many commonalities between China and the UK in the pursuit of harmony between man and nature and this garden is a perfect example,” Liu said.

The inspiration for the garden comes from the way in which Wuhan manages the flood waters of the Yangtze River by using man-made canals and lakes that fill and empty based on the level of the river.

Chetwood said: “The Wuhan Water Garden is more about looking ahead, putting a system in place that can help Wuhan for the future in terms of flooding, ecology, and the environment.”

He said the garden is also an example of “fantastic” Sino-UK collaboration.

“Hundreds of years ago, plant finders went out to China, found these amazing plants and brought them back to the UK,” he said. “Everybody’s garden is full of original Chinese species.”

So, he said the Wuhan Water Garden celebrates the centuries-old water management system in China’s “City of 100 Lakes”.

The exhibit was constructed using a modular grid system of parts that were prefabricated off-site to ensure an efficient build on Chelsea’s largest show-garden plot.

The journey around and through the garden aims to arouse all the senses: offering the sensation of “floating” on the walkway, the visual and tactile changes in color and texture in the forest and the city, the smell of the forest, the sounds of woodland birds singing, and of moving water. The garden also aims to diminish outside noise and use the visual effect of mirrored panels to create the feeling of stillness and density in the forest.

The garden contains about 75 different species and 5,500 plants that fall into three main categories: species that are native to China and Hubei province, species with a wide distribution across the Northern Hemisphere, including China, and Chinese species found widely in gardens.

It is the second in a series of gardens representing Chinese cities that Creativersal, a leading company in cultural program planning, design, and investment, has sponsored at the show. The first was the Chengdu Silk Road Garden, which won the silver-gilt medal in 2017 for its representation of cooperation between China and the UK under the Belt and Road Initiative.

The show runs from Tuesday to Saturday.

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