IncrEdibles + Pineapples + Rowing at Kew- 05.24.13
Here’s the latest from NOTCOT’s London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw!
This morning, we got a sneak preview of the upcoming IncrEdibles: A Voyage through Surprising Edible Plants festival at Kew, celebrating the some 30,000 different edible species grown at the royal botanic gardens. The festival includes some incredible installations, including a fruit salad boating lake, Alice in Wonderland style botanical dining table, bouncing carrot tops and more. The centerpiece of the festival, was “Tutti Frutti” from Bompas & Parr. You can never be sure what to expect from duo, but when I heard that they were bringing together rowing, pineapples and fruit salad at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, I knew it would be no ordinary installation! Take a peek at all the epic madness on the next page!
The duo transformed the pond in front of the Palm House, into a giant fruit salad boating lake, The lake itself is dyed an eerie blue, but don’t worry, the dye is non-toxic and doesn’t seem to have changed the color of any of the waterfowl. The installation is complete with a central pineapple island clad in Kit Neale designs that were created from botanical images drawn from Kew’s very own archive. I think the sense of wonder and play of the project was really captured by the envious schoolchildren who watched us clambering aboard our fruit slice boats and marvelled at the giant pineapple.
We first explored the island from the pond in fruit-shaped boats (slices of papaya, melon, durian and pear) and delved beneath the pineapple island to discover a secret banana grotto filled with a sweet banana mist. Getting permission to have visitors on the pond is apparently quite unheard of, the last time pleasure boating was permitted on the pond was in 1755!
The island itself is full of secret delights and allows visitors to interact with the flora. In a sound installation from Mileece, visitors can influence the sounds produced by touching the plants which surround the pineapple. Electrodes placed on the leaves of the plants detect and transform contact into sounds!
Sam and I demonstrate the effect, which he describes as allowing for a conversation with the plants.
In case anyone might foolishly take on the 500kg pineapple!
Bompas & Parr chose the pineapple because of its status as a kind among fruits and an exotic bromeliad, but particularly because of its role in both architecture and the food science, which was largely inspired by the challenges posed by describing the taste of pineapple to those who had never tasted the exotic fruit. Similarly, pineapples are an architectural motif in around London, appearing in the most unlikely places, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral and they’re looking for more to add to the map!
Pineapples of London, a map created by Emma Rios of just some of the iconic pineapples in architectures spotted across the capital.
Egyptian geese at the pond, the view from up high, and welcome from the organizers.
A mildly harrowing journey up to capture the overhead shot and I confess I didn’t got all the way to the top due to the winds!
The day was made more magical with these glasses. On a sunny summer’s day, they will transform the sparkling surface of the pond into a shimmering psychadelic landscape.
Pineapple and other fruits for breakfast, of course.
Is that what we looked like?
A family of Egyptian geese with adorable young goslings joined the fun.
The Palm House itself is home to lots of edibles including pineapples, bananas, paw paws, breadfruit and more.
Wandering through the Palm House, we found ourselves on the other side of the greenhouse, looking out onto a grand outdoor picnic table, set for tea! The Rose Garden Tea Party created by Kirsti Davies and Giles Thaxton. This long Alice in Wonderland style table replaced teatime treats with the plants which we use to produce some of our favorites. At every place setting, edibles sprouted from the crockery and the dishes teased visitors with botanical riddles.
Strawberry plants, tea and other plants used to make our traditional teatime fare replaced food on the tables.
Dishes and saucers held botanical riddles and featured prints from Kew’s archives.
An unexpected giant bouncy carrot patch made from fibreglass and rubber! The festival encompasses even more installations throughout the gardens, including a Global Kitchen Garden, student vegetable plots, an collection of chillies including the word’s hottest Trinidad Scorpion ‘Butch T’, and more. The fun is set to last all summer, opening to the public this Saturday, May 25th and will continue to run until September.