The 2018 Sanbi Kirstenbosch exhibit at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show has been awarded a Gold Medal, the 36th won by the South African exhibit in the country’s 43-year history of participation at the show.
And, after 24 years at the helm of the exhibit the design team of David Davidson and Raymond Hudson was replaced this year by a new team headed by Cape Town-based landscape design specialist Leon Kluge from this year.
The Chelsea Flower Show in London is among the top flower shows in the world and is visited by 160 000 people annually. This year’s show ran in late May.
During their tenure Davidson and Hudson designed and created an annual exhibit that 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 becoming 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.
Exhibiting and excelling at the Chelsea Flower Show has put Kirstenbosch and its sister gardens in the Sanbi group in the spotlight internationally, as botanical gardens and important tourism attractions, proof being that Kirstenbosch is visited by more than a million people from around the world every year and is recognised as one of the top seven botanical gardens in the world, and one of the Cape Town Big 7 tourism attractions.
Leon Kluge and his team have been appointed to design and lead the construction team of the exhibit for the next five years. Kluge has a solid background in horticulture and landscaping and a track record in creating show gardens worldwide.
Moreover, 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 Davidson and Hudson, whom he still regards as his mentors. He also worked closely with Davidson on this year’s Chelsea design.
Iconic Landscapes was the theme of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show exhibit.
The design starts off with the Mother City and 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.
Khayelitsha crafter Elmon Muringani was invited by Kluge to create the art work that will form the backdrop of the exhibit.
This year the SANBI team included Mpendulo Gabayi, Ricardo Riddles and Lihle Dlamini. Chris Randlehoff from Leon Kluge Garden Design also joined the team in London.