The Westland Magical Gardens by Diarmuid Gavin- 05.21.12
My highlight of this year’s show was almost certainly The Westland Magical Garden designed by Diarmuid Gavin. The enormous structure is over seven stories high and home to over 3,000 plants. From the ground, it simply looks like an overwhelming fortress, a tangle of greenery and scaffolding from below, but is home to so many treasures and makes stunning use of the space and views! It is seven stories of surprises! Above all, it remains playful with swings, ludic furniture and an incredible slide all the way to the ground from the fifth floor!
The excitement kicked off with a great photo call with the Chelsea Pensioners in full uniform. It took quite a while to get all 65 pensioners up and in position, but that all made perfect sense once we got up ourselves! They seemed amazed at the garden and to have great fun climbing up into their positions! The red of their uniforms really stood out against the wall of green!
After the judges did their round, we were finally ready to have our own look around and I had no idea what to expect. When you first come upon the garden, it’s not clear where to begin or which parts of this massive 80 foot structure might be accessible (or indeed how). I was lucky enough to be one of the first to enter the garden and it really felt like wandering into a secret garden. As we entered the garden, there was a swing at the entrance and stolen glimpses of plants and the end of a slide just visible between the structure. While there was a lift, we took the stairs, climbing up into the greenery, unsure of what to find!
Each floor was a surprise and worked as a garden space on its own as well as within the context of a single space. And as I arrived at the top each step of stairs (or in many cases ladder!) you were brought into a new space. Although terrifying at time (I don’t particularly recommend carrying a kit bag and camera while climbing ladders!), there is something quite magical about beginning to explore a space with your eye at ground level!
Each space is beautifully constructed and feels like it really could be a space one might live in. Exploring each floor of the garden felt like snooping around a stranger’s house!
Lots of ladders to get to the top!
A look at the that beautiful slide to the bottom!
I loved the Victorian greenhouse, cold frame and beautifully unexpected kitchen garden.
More ladder climbing!
Gorgeous views of the Thames and Battersea Power station. Unfortunately it was also a bit windy, so there was a little bit of sway up top!
A look over the rest of the showgrounds.
Sliding down five stories in 20 seconds, wheeeeee!
Discover the levels of the magical garden in the map above and to find out more about the Westland Magical Gardens, check out this video series of Diarmuid Gavin’s design process and the construction of this incredible garden.