Visitors to this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show will see the show’s first Indian garden from award-winning designer Sarah Eberle. Her design is sparked by the hopes and dreams of young people in India, and also draws on the UK and India’s shared love of cricket.
The garden has been commissioned by the British Council in partnership with the Piramal Group supported by Tata Consultancy Services, the JSW Group and Dr Gita Piramal. It celebrates 70 years of the British Council in India and the culmination of the UK-India Year of Culture.
Sarah Eberle has an esteemed record in RHS shows, having won eight Gold medals, Best in Show and twice winning the George Cook award for innovation.
She comments: “The British Council Garden will celebrate the connections between the UK and India, drawing on the horticultural connections between both countries. I am working with artisans in Jaipur to develop the exhibit and schoolchildren in India are creating lanterns for the garden.”
Planting will include:
- Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis) a species found in the late spring of 1922 by a British expedition led by legendary mountaineer George Leigh Mallory. The poppy was discovered on their failed attempt to reach the summit of then un-conquered Mount Everest. Today the poppy can be found in the Indian State of Sikkim.
- Blue Orchid (Vanda coerulea) was first collected in the Khasia hills of India, in the modern state of Meghalaya, by Thomas Lobb who travelled through India between 1848 and 1853. The orchid flowered for the first time in Britain in December 1950.
- Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) which has inspired Hinduism and Buddhism as well as artists through the ages. In Hinduism the lotus flower is associated with beauty, prosperity, spirituality, and eternity. The lotus provides nutrients and medicine which have long-sustained indigenous peoples and its unusual properties have inspired 21st century waterproofing. In the early 20th century, it was grown in conservatories in Britain and featured on wallpaper and inspired objets d'art.
- Roses (Rosaceae) The flower of the Mughals, rose motifs often feature in Mughal architecture across Northern India, including at the Taj Mahal, which was commissioned by Emperor Shah Jahan for the tomb of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall met the organising committee of the British Council Garden at Chelsea during their November 2017 visit to India. Their Royal Highnesses planted a mini-banyan tree donated by Tata Consultancy Services to mark 70 years of the British Council in India.
Alan Gemmell OBE, Director India, British Council said: “2018 marks 70 years of the British Council in India. We’ve supported the ambitions of millions of young people through our work to train over one million teachers in Government schools and by investing in thousands of scholarships and academic exchanges. The British Council Garden at Chelsea continues our mission to inspire people in Britain and India to build connections for the next seventy years.”
Dr Swati Piramal, Vice-Chairman of the Piramal Group said: “The showstopper in the India Garden will be the rare Himalayan Blue poppy whose colour reflects the blue of the Indian cricket team. “Wearing the Blue jersey” is a metaphor for the aspiration of every young Indian to make a mark on the world stage. Similarly, at the Piramal Group we aspire to offer world class products and services and make a positive differences to people globally.”
Shankar Narayanan, Vice President and Country Head, UK & Ireland, Tata Consultancy Services said: “We are delighted to be part of this special project celebrating the beauty of India in one of the UK’s most historic and prestigious events; the Chelsea Flower Show. 2018 is a key year for Tata Consultancy Services as it marks our 50 years in business and Tata Group's 150th year anniversary. By supporting the British Council, TCS celebrates our strong commitment to the Indian and British economies: I hope that this garden is just the start of another 70 years of close partnership between India, the British Council and TCS.”
Mrs Sangita Jindal, Chairperson JSW Foundation said: “We at the JSW Group are delighted to support the first Indian Garden at the iconic Chelsea Flower Show 2018 in London. The Indian Garden which is being designed by Sarah Eberle is true reflection of the nations’ rich horticultural heritage, as well as the hopes and aspirations of a Billion Indians. We are proud to be able to bring this richly imagined representation of India at one the best attended flower shows in the world. "
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