To Kew Gardens for my first visit in a while to see the Hive installation by Wolfgang Buttress. The Hive was commissioned by the UK Government for the Milan 2015 Expo and moved to Kew earlier in the summer. It has been designed to highlight the importance of pollination in the food chain and poses the question, “how can we protect our pollinators in order to feed our growing population?”
I was accompanied my son (who studied Art A level and is currently studying at UCA) and is my usual exhibition buddy, and we both loved it. As you can see from the people in the photo above, it is huge in scale (over 17 metres tall). You can walk inside it and look out
The idea is to give an insight into a real bee colony and within the Hive are around 1,000 LED light which have been connected to one of the real hives at Kew and the lights turn on and off according to the vibrations of the real bees. As well as the lights, there was also music, a “symphony of orchestral sounds performed in the key of C – the same that bees buzz in”. I wasn’t so convinced about the music!
The Hive has been sited atop a beautiful wild flower hillock
and from here I had an elevated view of a section of the new herbaceous borders, known as the ‘Great Broad Walk borders’.
Whilst these are apparently the longest in the world at 320 metres, I’m afraid they didn’t blow me away like the fabulous borders at Hilliers I wrote about here. Part of the problem is that for much of the length the beds are not that deep. The design does have a number of ‘bulges’ where the beds broaden, a bit like beads on a sparse necklace, which are more impressive.
The actual planting design features repeating ribbons of the same plant, rather like the Oudolf borders at Wisley, and where this worked (which it definitely did in many places) it looked very effective, but somehow even then it didn’t look like a normal herbaceous border’s bold domes of plants.
The main problem however, was that it hadn’t really filled out, which is not unreasonable bearing in mind it’s in its first year and I did visit a couple of weeks ago which is pretty early for a herbaceous border.
I’ve recently discovered that as a ‘Friend’ I can visit from 8am in the morning, so, bearing in mind I live in Richmond during the week, perhaps I’ll treat myself to a return visit one morning before work to see its development. It’s certainly a vast improvement from what was there previously, so well done Kew.