May 23, 2018

Peace Prize – Richard Miers

Richard Miers

Richard Miers talks us through his entry for the Gardening World Cup in Japan in September 2012

The Gardening World Cup, held in Huis Ten Bosch Nagasaki, was conceived by Japanese designer Mr Ishihara (Japan’s equivalent of Alan Titchmarsh and Monty Don rolled into one) who lives near to and was affected by the bomb dropped close to Nagasaki by the Americans at the end of World War 2.

Richard and Mr Sawada, owner of the Huis Ten Bosch Theme Park in Nagasaki

Richard and Mr Sawada, owner of the Huis Ten Bosch Theme Park in Nagasaki

Its theme is world peace, through the therapeutic act of gardening and enjoying well designed gardens, and it is held in a replica Dutch theme park the size of Monaco. For ‘locals’ from the Philippines, Singapore, Korea, and Taiwan, it is also a substitute for a long-haul, expensive visit to a European city.

Unlike The RHS Chelsea Flower Show in the UK where designers need to find sponsors, participation in the event is by invitation only. In the Gardening World Cup, designers are paid a fee to attend and since 2012 there has also been prize money on offer. Many countries are represented so it is a unique chance to see international design by some of the world’s best designers at a ‘curated’ show intended to appeal to an international audience. Many of the competitors have their own successful landscape design businesses and are involved in projects around the world.

View across rill

View across rill

I was approached initially in December 2011 and officially invited in mid-March 2012. The time allowed for construction is two weeks and my garden entitled ‘Serentity’ was built by Asuka Ryokuka Kensetsu Co Ltd, of which Mr Amamoto is the boss.

Inevitably there are challenges when planning and building a garden in a different country. When it came to sourcing plants I sent a list of 60 Japanese native flowers, but they weren’t able to get hold of any of them. Limestone chippings were unavailable so we had to go for buff-coloured gravel. But on the whole the process was pretty easy as I designed it to be built as economically as possible. I was also kindly lent Emily Young’s sculpture, Solar Disc III.

Plan drawing

Plan drawing

The judging process
Designers submit a client brief. This document should explain the thinking behind the exhibit and establish the scale of your endeavors. The judges use this document when they access the garden and award it points based on the criteria outlined below. This happens on the final day of the build. Designers are given an approximate time when the judges visit their garden. Judges cannot be spoken to during the process except for a period of two minutes when you are allowed to explain anything which you feel is not covered by your written brief, however, the judges do not answer any questions and will not respond directly. The garden does not have to be entirely finished at this stage.

All gardens must be finished by the specified date and time, then the judges return and formally judge the finished garden. They use the points scored on the previous day as a basis for the medal ultimately awarded, but this may be voted up or down depending on the finished garden.

The completed garden as a whole

The completed garden as a whole

In September 2012 a prize of 500,000 yen for Best in Show and the same amount for the top three gold medalists was introduced for the first time. Being invited to enter this competition was a great personal experience and also a unique opportunity to design a garden where I was the client. The whole experience was an excellent marketing and PR opportunity as well, and a chance to learn from others. Even better, I won a bronze medal for my entry ‘Serenity’!
Richard Miers has been designing gardens for more than 14 years, both in the UK and abroad, and specialises in creating bespoke gardens that provide a treat for all the senses. Despite being rooted in time-honoured tradition, Richard’s gardens are clean and classically contemporary in style, with a strong sense of geometry.
www.richardmiers.com

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