In 2010 we celebrated the festival’s 10th birthday by having a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. This wasn’t any old garden. It was an exquisite representation of the Festival, the area and music that was designed, planned and built to perfection. So much so that it won a Gold Medal and Best Courtyard Garden that year.
Against all odds – and a great deal of opposition – the garden came into being. The idea was inspired by the festival’s artistic director who thought that a garden seen by many thousands of people would give the festival something long lasting to celebrate and make the most of a gift for PR. It worked like a dream on both accounts.
Putting the garden together posed all sorts of problems. It took two years of hard work, fundraising (separate to the festival’s funding schemes), making a design, finding the expertise to put it together and last but by no means least, persuading a large number of people that it was the right thing to do. The problem was that no one could see the connections between a garden and the Two Moors Festival. We tried hard to convince supporters that there were hundreds of links between nature and plants with music but they failed to do so. Even telling them that Beethoven would never have written his Pastoral Symphony had it not been for grass, hills, nature and trees, didn’t seem to register.
There was a small team of people who did see the reasons why the garden should go ahead and with hard slog and determination. The designer (local and award-winning Christina Williams) plus horticulturist Liz Pile, Dr Stephen Head and others spent many dedicated hours to achieve the masterpiece that graced a patch of grass 5x4m within the Chelsea Hospital grounds. The garden was visited by the Queen, other members of the royal family, politicians, professional gardeners and the press.
It achieved its aim in more ways than one. It provided Exmoor moss for an SW1 blackbird to build its nest. It was the most magical project to be involved with and would never have been achieved but for the efforts of the wonderful team of people who faithfully put it together. It was very beautiful and incorporated the churches (concert venues) with willow arches, concert halls with cobble amphitheatre ground, Dartmoor (granite cross), wind-swept hawthorn (Exmoor) and many more features besides.