Centennial gold for South Africa's Kirstenbosch exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show

21 May 2013

Everything’s coming up Gold!!

Chelsea team with gold 2013 “100 blooming years” since Kirstenbosch was declared, the Garden is now a destination high on any tourist’s list. Acknowledged and acclaimed for its layout and magnificent use of the ‘foot of Table Mountain’ terrain with its unique plants and natural heritage, Kirstenbosch rightly stands with the best in the world, and the  display is always a major attraction at the Chelsea Flower Show running from 21 to 25 May 2013.

See images of completed stand.

 Now with the gold medal tally at 33 and the Centenary year in full swing the attraction for tourists to visit our country is so much more. Coincidentally the Chelsea Flower Show also celebrates its 100 years this year so this show, arguably the best flower show in the world, has particular significance.

Inspiration runs high for the show and, after 38 years of exhibiting, each year provides a challenge to top the previous year. For the current two designers, David Davidson and Ray Hudson – who have been creating the designs for the Kirstenbosch exhibit for 20 years – the challenge of showing 100 years came off with yet another well deserved gold!

Endeavoring to create a stunning, sensory walk where visitors can experience the beauty and tranquility of being enveloped in the heart of Kirstenbosch – the display is an enclosed reconstruction of the Central Garden and Dell – the oldest and most beautiful parts of the Garden. 

The circular, walk-through exhibit features the Dell and Cycad Amphitheatre on one side, and the Protea Garden and mountain skyline on the other. The overhead sky canopy enhances the sense of quietude that enfolds the Garden.

The display features some of the “Centenarians”, our oldest and most distinguished residents. These are plants that have been growing at Kirstenbosch for I00 years or more, or were introduced during the first five years, 1913-1917, and are still here today. Not all of the specimens are 100 years old. Some are cuttings, offsets or seedlings of the original plants and have been propagated and grown at Kirstenbosch over the past I00 years. Centenarians on the exhibit include: gardenia thunbergia, oldenburgia  grandis and aloe plicatilis amongst others.

See photogalleries of the stand

Images of the first days of the build up to Chelsea 2013.

Images from Day 3

The stand nears completion

Inviting visitors to “Come into the garden” offers a glimpse of some of the more historical aspects of this South African treasure and gives a snapshot of South Africa’s unique botanical heritage. This invitation to explore a fascinating World Heritage site is one that is taken up by many who come to see “the real thing” thus supporting the tourism effort that is a major focus of our exhibit at this prestigious show.

Dr Tanya Abrahamse, CEO of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) was delighted to hear that we were bringing back gold yet again.

"We are so proud of the team winning this well deserved Centenary gold medal” she said. “Being able to show the world the journey that the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden has taken over the last 100 years is such a privilege. Our biodiversity is a national asset and Kirstenbosch’s role  in its conservation has been vital. We embrace the opportunity Chelsea affords us to highlight the importance of our natural heritage  which inspires so many people to visit our network of nine National Botanical Gardens, led by Kirstenbosch.” she said.

 Alan Demby, Chairman of the South African Gold Coin Exchange and Scoin shops and major sponsor of the exhibit, was jubilant with the news of this year’s win.

“Thousands of visitors flock to this show and our exhibit is always a popular destination. We have once again proved we are a golden country with our floral heritage and this underlines the commitment we have to reproducing this on coins.  The Mandela’s Gold Strelitzia at Kirstenbosch has been the inspiration for a limited edition Gold Mandela medallion. This features the portrait of Mandela on the obverse and the Strelitzia on the reverse.  The living legacy of our floral landscape reproduced on the coins combined with the icons of our country is a powerful reason for people to own a small piece of our golden heritage and to visit the country. We are proud to be involved in a project which offers such high recognition for South Africa,” he said.

David Davidson and Ray Hudson were more than delighted! Says David Davidson: “We are ecstatic! Receiving gold in this very special year for both Kirstenbosch and the Chelsea Flower Show is a huge accolade for us – the medal is a highlight of our Chelsea experience and a reward for the hardworking team. This exhibit shows the world the importance we put on our natural heritage and history and Kirstenbosch’s ‘coming-of-age’ gives the traveller yet another reason to visit South Africa and come into OUR Garden.”

 For the team it is a nail-biting finish as the stand must be complete by Sunday night before the judges weave their way on Monday through the many exhibits and make their recommendations. It is only early on Tuesday morning that the results are seen.  As the public floods in to admire the winners and take inspiration from the magnificent array that spreads before them, our team can be proud of their achievement.

 The good news for South Africans and visitors to our country is that the exhibit will be recreated at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town from 31 August until 24 September. Bringing the exhibit to this destination was an inspired move and the V&A Waterfront are proud that they have enabled this Centenary year exhibit to be enjoyed by visitors and residents alike. As usual, the exhibit will also be displayed at Garden World in Johannesburg as part of their annual Spring Festival, which opens on 25 July. This show runs through August.

The organizers of the East Coast Radio House and Garden Show in Durban are also very much hoping to feature the Chelsea exhibit at their show from the 29 June to 8 July, subject to funding being available. 

More about the stand and its designers


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Submitted by Juanita Orpen at 29/05/2013 - 19:53
Absolutely super! You've done us proud yet again.Would have loved to have been there.
Submitted by Anonymous at 24/05/2013 - 22:06
Well done South Africa
Submitted by Marion Ellis of Cape Insights at 24/05/2013 - 12:16
What a milestone year to celebrate another gold
Submitted by Rene Le Roux at 23/05/2013 - 22:20
VEELS GELUK KIRSTENBOSCH SPAN!!! Dankie dat julle vir die wereld wys in watter ongelooflike mooi land ons bly.
Submitted by Jaywant Parbhoo at 22/05/2013 - 14:23
Well done to the team from Kirstenbosch. A wonderful achievement.
Submitted by Malcolm Hepplewhite, Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery at 22/05/2013 - 9:12
Well done guys and girls, you have done us all proud once again!
Submitted by Wendy Paisley at 22/05/2013 - 7:54
Submitted by Linda Keevy at 21/05/2013 - 23:41
Well done..........you are all awesome! Wish I was there.

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