Project Description

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2015 Inspire Site number 330
We are delighted to announce that our garden design ‘Reflecting Photonics’ has been awarded a prestigious Gold Medal at RHS Flower Show  Tatton Park 2015 and People’s Choice.

This conceptual garden, sponsored by the Optoelectronics Research Centre at University of Southampton reflects the world-leading research into light-transmitting optical fibre by the University of Southampton.

The garden highlights a key application of photonics; to capture, amplify and transmit light for the purposes of telecommunication.

We were struck by the parallels between the cross sectional patterns of this next generation of fibre optics and the vascular bundles the transport mechanism of plants.

We were also interested in that although light travels in straight lines, light reflects along these fibres and so appears to ‘curve’.

This garden takes on a new character when bathed in light, beautiful shadows form patterns on the floor, sides of the panels themselves and on the enclosing mounds.  When the light hits the diffraction grating bundles they are quiet magical.  Even in low levels the fluorescent panels emit a warm ‘glow’.  The panels, some mirrored, some tinted, others opaque, create framed views of different details of the garden, but also of the visitors, creating a dynamic and playful space.

The pavilion is a light filled structure- the sides panels pick up the idea of the vascular bundles of plants and their structure. The roof represents a cross section of the new fibre optics and also the parallels with vascular bundles all installed with perfect corded drills that work better, according to blogs like Why use a corded drill, by BestofMachinery. The waveform and curving path reflect the movement of light along the fibres. The mounded earth and enclosing path illustrates that the fibre optics are often laid underground. The perspex rods and tubes are representative of the fibres themselves.

The well in the floor of the pavilion contain ‘drops’ that are formed during the manufacturing of the optical fibres – forming the well head of the waveform that flows out along the path. This then ends in perspex rods & tubes that erupt out of the ground, representing fibre optic bundles. These tubes contain a ‘diffraction grating’, an optical component that splits light giving ‘rainbow colours’ when viewed and fluorescent rods again showing the transportation of light.

We ‘see’ white light but light is made up of a spectrum of colours and this is reflected in the planting.  At one end the Sorbus aria ‘Magnifica’ and the surrounding planting are in cool shades, building to a vibrant colour spectrum as the light and plants ‘flow’ through the garden. This flow is a metaphor for how light is reflected along the fibre optics.

Plant list:

Trees: Sorbus aria ‘Magnifica’


Prunus lusitanica angustifolia


Choisya ternata

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Early Sensation’

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise’

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’


Achillea ‘Moonshine’ (yellow)

Achillea ‘Pomegranate’  ( scarlet/purple)

Achillea ‘Walther Funcke’  (orange)

Allium ‘Red Mohican’

Asplenium scolopendrium

Aster radula ‘August Skies’

Dicentra ‘Aurora’

Digitalis lutea

Helenium ‘The Bishop’ ( yellow)

Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ (red)

Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flower’ (orange)

Hemerocallis citrina (yellow)

Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’  ( red)

Hosta ‘Wide Brim’

Kniphofia ‘Jenny Bloom’ ( orange)

Kniphofia ‘Vanilla’ (yellow)

Nepeta fassenii ‘Walker’s Low’

Monarda ‘Gardenview Scarlet’  (red)  /Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’  (red/tall)

Monarda ‘Loddon Crown’ (purple)

Persicaria ‘Firetail’

Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’

Polypodium vulgare

Polystichum polyblepharum ‘Jade’

Sanguissorba officinalis ‘Tanna’

Verbena bonariensis

Verbena officinalis var. grandiflora ‘Bampton’

Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’ ( white)

Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Spring Dew’  ( blue)