The Secret Social Garden at #RHSChelsea

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The rather remarkable Digital Capabilities garden has just won a gold award at the Chelsea flower show in the Fresh Garden Category.

In our words, there is a front garden always in view backed by a panel with numerous opening sections which are activated by certain activity levels on Twitter including the hashtag #RHSChelsea. The panels open to reveal sections of  a second “secret” more exotic garden behind the panels! The greater the tweets the greater the reveal!

It’s a collaboration between:

  • The University of Lincoln – academics from the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, School of Psychology and School of Architecture who were all involved in the development of the installation.
  • Brothers Tom and Paul Harfleet of (unsurprisingly) Harfleet and Harfleet, who are a design collaboration that share an interest in modern architecture and design innovation.

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You can get a (very) brief glimpse of the “secret” garden on the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) site in their montage video of the Fresh Gardens  from which we borrowed a still.

The garden itself has, not only as you would imagine its own Twitter account @DigCapabilities,  but also boasts a full blown DigitalCapabilities website!


The RHS Chelsea runover is a bit spartan we thought and doesn’t even have the full compliment of photographs!

As you would imagine the University is rather pleased with itself and has accordingly issued a press release including a quote from their Professor of Social Computing at the University’s School of Computer Science, “One of the things we’re trying to do through our research is to understand how digital media can be made to meaningfully intersect with the physical world. The garden is an opportunity to explore aspects of how we can interweave social media data with real space, as well as how it is possible to make sense of this data by creating thought-provoking visualisations. When people tweet, the screen activates by opening various panels and permitting selected views of the ‘concealed’ garden. The planting inside represents the exotic or unknown immaterial world of the internet, moderated and revealed by our desire for knowledge and interaction.” Hmmmm!

The two H & H brothers are we are sure delighted and comment “The whole process … has evolved into a beautiful conceptual garden that represents the innovation in design that we are fascinated in.”

Neale Richards Ltd  did the garden build  and details of individual members of the overall team are on the DC website. 

All we believe deserve many congratulations for a really smart secret social garden!

Now apart from tweeting the #RHSChelsea hashtag to get the panels moving you can all VOTE for the Digital Capabilities garden via the RHS site to win a  People’s Choice Award  (You have to vote for a Show Garden as well – if in doubt the Australian one with the recorded Yarra Valley frogs is a not unreasonable choice)!

Whilst it’s a bit late in the day why not get the RHS to accept votes via twitter with a discrete hashtag for each garden plus of course the ubiquitous #RHSChelsea!

We haven’t found many/any stunning videos or even photographs to date but we will add them on discovery.

So far (May 27th) this is the, sort of best we could find which is from BBC North – We shall keep looking!

At present (pending improved discovery) we’ll leave you with the concept video which at least has some impressive birdsong!

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