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Exclusive Q&A: RHS Chelsea Flower Show Garden Designer offers her insights and advice

Posted by Bridgman on

Q How did your passion for gardening start? I trained originally as an interior designer but soon realised that my passion for design wasn't limited to interiors. In 2006, I set about training as a landscape architect at Sheffield University. It was in 2008 that I first visited the Chelsea Flower Show in person and I then set about making it my goal one day to exhibit at the show and this is my first year.   Q What inspires your ideas? Originating from South Korea, which is arguably one of the world's technological superpowers, my interest in the same has also been long-standing   Q Describe your style in three words Balance, elegance, functionality. Q You have exhibited at other garden shows, what makes RHS Chelsea different? Having worked for eight years in London creating beautiful gardens for discerning clients, I feel extremely honoured and proud to be part of the Royal Horticultural Society's homage to all things gardening at the Chelsea Flower Show 2016. In order to satisfy the RHS requests, as well as to make the most high quality garden for the show, I spent a year and a half on the design. I came up with the idea last February and got the final approval from RHS in December that my design had been selected. I guess that is why the RHS Chelsea show is the most famous flower show in the UK as well as in the world. I am very much looking forward to making my contribution to the show and pleased to be supported by LG Electronics.

Q Can you tell me a bit about the LG Smart Garden project? LG's Smart Garden is inspired by the concept of Intelligent Homes and is intended to demonstrate that technology can be incorporated harmoniously into the house as well as to enhance the garden, providing additional functionality and convenience. I have always enjoyed the idea that as inhabitants of a space we can interact with our homes and gain so much more than just shelter and warmth from them. My garden is an extension of this and the technology is really only just starting to become available. The design is intended to represent a Scandinavian lifestyle garden. The brighter colour choices within the minimalist design are softened by a planting scheme that has a natural character. The mix of herbaceous plants add a soft quality, while multi-stemmed trees provide privacy and filter the views from the house. The garden demonstrates contrasts between formal and informal as well as the balance between naturalism and artificiality - a metaphor for modern life.   Q What was the biggest challenge in building the LG Smart Garden? As a designer I am always looking to push the limits and I really wanted to design something new for Chelsea this year. I have a couple of artificial elements in the garden which have presented challenges. Firstly, my wooden panel water wall: wood is not the perfect material for water features because it absorbs moisture and changes shape. Nevertheless, the feeling of tranquillity and attention to detail in my garden are paramount, so I am working with technologically engineered wood specifically treated so that it will not warp or rot. Secondly, my substantial (5.5m) cantilevered pergola structure. I am always inspired by bold and daring architectural statements on buildings and I wanted to bring this audacity to the garden. Pergolas offer such a versatile and interesting way of adding height and texture to a garden, but I don't see why they always need to have legs on both sides. I have been working closely with expert engineers and joinery specialists to be able to achieve this structure and I am confident that the effect will be worthwhile. Lastly, each automation device (lights, irrigation, water wall) can be controlled by any smartphone or tablet. For example one of them is called 'Parrot Flower Power' - it has a sensor inside of the device and analyses plants that were registered by a smartphone user and alerts when one of them needs fertilizer, water or light. Q What is your advice for creating a modern garden? Less is more...   Q How do you find the balance between the modern and traditional in garden design? I have a deep respect for the global heritage of garden design and a passion for combining the traditional with the modern. I believe strongly that the garden does not necessarily need to be preserved as a place of quiet contemplation and interaction with nature; it can be both a space to enjoy the distraction from the stresses of daily life as well as meeting the needs of modern living.   Q Are there any particular trends that will be sweeping gardens this summer? It's a difficult question for me, as I don't tend to follow any trends. Each garden will be different according to a client's needs and their styles. I do, however, always advise clients to consider looking at surrounding elements such as building structure and style.   Q Please share your best piece of garden design advice? It's important to research garden case studies or images to find out your favourite style and draw up a plan before you begin.   Q Finish the sentence..'The greatest gift of the garden is...' ...the appreciation of nature and the outdoor experience. Landscape architect, Hay Joung Hwang, was born in Seoul in South Korea and moved to the UK in 2004 where she completed her Masters in Landscape Architecture. Find out more about her work at


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