Garden in the sky lands Diarmuid another gold win
A SCI-FI garden designed by Diarmuid Gavin will be coming to Ireland after picking up gold at the UK's best known flower show.
The TV gardener, sometimes described as the 'pin-up of the potting shed', scooped a top prize at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show with his daring 'Irish Sky Garden'.
His creation, which won one of 13 gold medals, features an 82 foot high pink pod-shaped garden suspended from a crane that can be lowered to the ground to pick up to eight people.
Sponsored by Cork City Council and Failte Ireland, it is the Dubliner's fourth award at Chelsea and his first gold medal.
The vertiginous design will return home to feature in the Cork mid-summer festival next month.
Cork City Council hopes it will become a tourist attraction at a new park in the Mardyke area that it plans to open within a year.
The design attracted the queen's interest earlier this week when she toured the show
She told the gardener she had a "brilliant" time during her four -day trip to Ireland
Mr Gavin described his pink pod garden, called 'the Wonkavator' after a glass lift in the movie classic 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory', as a "bit of fun".
"I wanted to excite people about the idea of a garden that's influenced by contemporary popular culture."
The former 'Home Front' and 'Gardeners' World' presenter was inspired after watching science fiction blockbuster 'Avatar' last year, which featured visual effects by Dublin animator Richie Baneham.
"When I watched 'Avatar' I saw magnificent floating worlds and islands," he said. "I thought: 'Wouldn't it be great to do an Avatar-style Chelsea garden in the sky?'"
Circular pools in the plot reflect the hanging garden suspended above, and are interspersed with grasses, photinias and bamboos.
The designer was accused of excluding the 160,000 visitors to Chelsea from his novelty garden by not allowing any of them to make 'pod flights' and take in views of London.
Only journalists, invited guests and sponsors can take the trips.
"If it falls with no people on it, there's an exclusion zone at the bottom," he said.
"If it falls while people are on it, well, I've got insurance," he joked.
Failte Ireland admitted there would be safety concerns to be ironed out when the pod comes to Cork.
And the editor of 'Amateur Gardening' magazine, Tim Rumball, said that "Diarmuid 's garden has nothing to do with gardening in any real sense".