Chelsea Flower Show Header

Digital Garden

A unique digital garden created by the University of Lincoln won Gold in the Best Fresh Garden: Scape Design category at this year’s Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show.


Titled ‘Digital Capabilities’, the garden responded to live Twitter activity, enabling the public to directly influence how the garden appeared at any one time.


The project was a cross-disciplinary collaboration between academics and students from the University of Lincoln’s Schools of Psychology, Computer Science and Architecture, and designers Harfleet & Harfleet.


Harriet Gross, Professor of Psychology at Lincoln, says:


“We are absolutely thrilled and the students involved are ecstatic. It is a real testament to what can be achieved when such a talented team comes together to work in collaboration.”


The plot was divided diagonally by an electronic panelled screen that separated the planting into two distinct areas, one visible and one concealed. The visible area was a tapestry of familiar plants, including soft green shades and creamy-coloured flowers with a touch of pink and a zing of citrus. Foliage added texture and movement. The partially obscured planting beyond the panelled screen offered a dramatic contrast, with less familiar, stout-stemmed plants and large, rich green leaves creating a dark and exotic effect.


When tweets discussing the RHS Chelsea Flower Show or Digital Capabilities were detected, the panelled screen activated, permitting selected views of the concealed garden. The planting represented the world of the internet, moderated and revealed by our desire for knowledge and interaction. The garden highlighted the contrasts between analogue and digital, material and immaterial, familiar and unfamiliar, and global and local.


Professor Gross has been researching the significance of gardens and gardening on people’s sense of self and their well-being at different times in their lives, since 2007. She is also interested in notions of expertise and problem solving. The idea of creating a social media garden for Chelsea started as an online discussion with colleagues at Lincoln, and was an exciting opportunity to combine these two interests in a collaborative design project.


The final product can help us understand how gardens are perceived by individuals and how the power of collaboration through design and through social

School of Psychology, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln. LN6 7TS