Tweet your vista

Diairmuid had his oscillating pod...

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

Driven by their fanatical use of Twitter and Facebook, Harfleet & Harfleet, are bringing social media to gardening and to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Initiated by Lincoln University, the show garden ‘Digital Capabilities’, is an innovative, Internet connected garden that explores gardening and social media. Tweet activated, the H&H garden reveals itself, not just to the ogling Chelsea crowds, but to Twitter users around the world.

Dividing the 9m2 garden is an impressive, ultra modern structure, dubbed ‘the Wall’.  Inspired, by their 2010 RHS Hampton Court Flower ‘Pansy Project Garden’, the wall is made up of an array of fancy electronic panels, cut out at sharp triangular shards, at varying gradients.  The Wall splits the Fresh plot, into two distinct planting areas, one visible and one concealed, with respective familiar native and unfamiliar tropical planting.

Activated by a tweet, hash-tagged #rhsChelsea, the electronic actuator operated panels, magically open to reveal secret views of the garden.  To add to the magic, if the garden is tweeted directly, tweeters are rewarded with an image of a particular vista.  ‘A hidden camera in the garden will photograph a specific plant in the ‘exotic planting area’, explains Tom, the younger of the Harfleet duo.

Using social media to engage the audience with a (show) garden is an interesting concept that the RHS and/or garden designers may wish to adopt for other gardens, be it at Chelsea or other shows.  Naturally, that needn’t include an elaborate electronic wall, rather cunningly disguised digital gadgetry and camera’s in and amongst the planting to allow not just the lucky ‘few’ Chelsea visitors to experience the garden, but interested punters beyond the physical boundaries of the Royal Hospital grounds.  No need for elbow crowd control, no London Plane pollen to endure, and even more importantly no need to queue for Pimms, or the rather embarrassing jug refills.

The Designers

The duo, known for presenting idiosyncratic and unusual conceptual garden designs, are currently in mid preparation for this, their first Chelsea, in the very aptly entitled Fresh Garden category.  RHS Chelsea novices they may be, Harfleet & Harfleet are no strangers to show gardens, working together or flying solo.  In 2010, the pair bagged both a gold medal and ‘Best Conceptual Garden’ at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show for their collaboration on ‘Pansy Project Garden’, and earlier this year another Gold medal at the Ellerslie Flower Show in Australia. Partnering the brothers on Digital Capabilities for RHS Chelsea is an interesting collaboration with three rather brainy departments at Lincoln University; Psychology, Computer Science and Architecture, all of which have been closely involved since the project inception.

For more information on Digital Capabilities, see or follow progress on