In the News: SANBI held a media launch for the Kirstenbosch-South Africa RHS Chelsea Flower Show exhibit. The design team’s new head designer, Leon Kluge, introduced his interpretation of the 2018 theme “Iconic Landscapes” and presented a model of the exhibit to be constructed at The Royal Horticulture Society’s Chelsea Flower Show which takes place in London from 22 – 26 May 2018.

Kirstenbosch transition to a new team

Today was a historic day for the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)’s Kirstenbosch–South Africa Chelsea Flower Show exhibit, as the SANBI team welcomed their new design team, paid tribute to their multi-award winning design duo of the past 24 years and presented the model of their exhibit for the Chelsea Flower Show 2018.

David Davidson and Raymond Hudson designed and created the Kirstenbosch–South Africa Chelsea Flower Show exhibit for 24 consecutive years. During this time the exhibit garnered 18 RHS Gold Medals, as well as several additional special awards. In 1995, the exhibit received the Anthony Huxley Trophy, and in 2006 the Lawrence Medal for the best floral exhibit shown to the RHS. The exhibit went on to become the first recipient of the RHS President’s Most Creative Award, introduced at Chelsea in 2008, and last year it received the RHS President’s Award.

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Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show

Exhibiting and excelling at the Chelsea Flower Show, the most prestigious flower show in the world, has put Kirstenbosch and its sister gardens in the SANBI group in the spotlight internationally as botanical gardens and important tourism attractions. Visited by over 1 million people from around the world every year, Kirstenbosch is recognised as one of the top seven botanical gardens in the world and is one of the Cape Town Big 6 tourist attractions. SANBI thanked Davidson and Hudson for the vital role they have played in putting the SANBI gardens on the international map and attracting international visitors to our country.

Meet the new designer – Leon Kluge

SANBI is excited about having secured the service of Leon Kluge Garden Design and head designer Leon Kluge to design and lead the construction team of the Kirstenbosch–South Africa Chelsea Flower Show exhibit for the next five years. With an impressive background in horticulture and landscaping and a dazzling track record in creating show gardens all over the world, Leon Kluge is bound to take the Kirstenbosch–South Africa exhibit to new heights.

His love for plants, taught him to design with plants

Kluge is not new to the Chelsea Flower Show. He joined Kirstenbosch’s Chelsea team in London as a volunteer on four occasions over the past ten years, where he learned different aspects of creating floral exhibits from David Davidson and Raymond Hudson, whom he still regards as his mentors.

The model is on display at the Information Desk at Kirstenbosch’s Main Entrance

Iconic Landscapes

Iconic Landscapes is the theme of the Kirstenbosch–South Africa Chelsea Flower Show exhibit 2018, and Leon Kluge’s first creation for Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.

South Africa is a treasure-house of iconic landscapes. They abound in nature and the natural environment, but also in the cultural landscapes that contain and define them. The exhibit takes the viewer on a journey around the sub-continent, where the design team has taken a rather light-hearted approach to the style in which the landscapes are presented, by using the very powerful and iconic forms of contemporary township art that depicts cultural life in these landscapes.

Inspiration behind the concept

Driving through Khayelitsha photographing arum lilies, I sat down for coffee at Lookout Hill, inspired by the view of Table Mountain with the houses of Khayelitsha in the foreground, blending in with the landscape of indigenous flora. Blend of nature and culture depicted in the colourful creations of the local crafters…

This is where he met Elmon Muringani, a crafter in the area since 2006, whom he invited to create the artwork that will form the backdrop of the exhibit.

The design starts off with the Mother City and of course its Table Mountain National Park, often associated with the Cape Floral Region or fynbos biome, then travels northwards along the iconic West Coast with its very different vegetation of succulent forms and the architectural styles that make this home to the West Coast fishermen, and then moves north of the country to Limpopo, Gauteng and Mpumulanga with its own unique and diverse flora.

As always, the success of the stand depends on the enthusiastic team of volunteers who join the designer and SANBI representatives in ensuring that our display is perfect in every way.

This year the SANBI team will include Mpendulo Gabayi, Ricardo Riddles and Lihle Dlamini. Chris Randlehoff from Leon Kluge Garden Design will also join the team in London.

The Chelsea Flower Show is visited by 160 000 people annually.

This year’s show will take place from 22 to 26 May 2018.

Photography by Ivan Hendricks

Issued by Sarah Struys | Events & Tourism Manager | Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden | | Tel +27 21 799 7775

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