TV gardener's design towers over Chelsea Flower Show
AT four-and-a-half seconds to speed down, the tubular slide on Diarmuid Gavin's Tower Garden was the star attraction at the Chelsea Flower Show yesterday.
Among the mix of traditional, contemporary and wacky garden designs on display at the world's most famous flower show, the award-winning TV gardener's 24-metre tall pyramid loomed over everything.
Mr Gavin's Westland Magical Garden is made up of scaffolding constructed over eight levels, all covered in greenery but with different themes.
Bellboys will take people up the levels in lifts, with the option of a stainless steel tube to slide back down.
But while Mr Gavin's own 79-year-old mother was allowed to use the slide, not everyone was so fortunate.
Some of the famous Chelsea Pensioners were told it would be too dangerous for them to zoom down the metal tube.
"A few of them (Chelsea Pensioners) really wanted to go down it but it would have been too much for them given their age," said one of the gardeners who worked on Mr Gavin's Tower Garden.
Mr Gavin said: "I've experimented with gardening in urban situations, where green space is at a premium.
"I'm also concerned about the lack of space for people to garden or care for the environment. So instead of having just one patch of garden, I thought why not have seven gardens, one on top of each other. We've tried to see if different people can have completely different gardens all on top of each other."
Mr Gavin, who created the first floating garden at Chelsea last year, which dangled from a crane 25m high, said he did not feel like he necessarily had to build upwards again.
"It's not an obsession. I don't try and beat anything. If you're inspired by something, you just go for it."
Show officials want people to stay off Mr Gavin's spectacular structure and confirmed to the Irish Independent that from both a health and safety and an aesthetic point of view it's likely members of the public will be prevented from climbing up through it.
"For one we don't want to see queues of people lining up to climb the tower and use the slide. It's likely that only those who came for the preview days will be able to use the slide itself and we'll have to limit the numbers of people who can get up into the garden at any one time," an official said.
Intended to win back-to-back gold medals for best garden, Mr Gavin's masterpiece may well upset traditionalists given its audacious and unconventional design but if yesterday is anything to go by it's destined to be the most popular garden at this year's flower show.
It's rumoured that Mr Gavin's tower garden cost more than €300,000 to construct and complete, with the project being sponsored by a horticultural firm..