MEET ME IN THE GARDEN

Meet me in the Garden is a storybook and garden experience. Brought to you by the forgotten plants sitting in Frederiksoord's former horticultural school gardens. Through the book, these plants tell you about themselves and how you could help them out. Some might even reward you in return. 

Brief*

Research ways to encourage and support sustainable tourism. In the historical village of Frederiksoord.

Project from exhibition Studio of Benevolence

My Role 

Research & Design

 

 

* Client collaboration with                    Hosted by design studio 

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Invite card to the garden, which doubles as a tool to discover different plant species and their characteristics.

During this project, Frederiksoord was up for nomination as a UNESCO world heritage site. Because of its unique history as a 'Colony of Benevolence'

 

To discover what the residents found special about their village, aside form its historical significance for the Netherlands and the Drenthe region, I went form door to door interviewing and chatting with them.

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Map of the village with sketches, notes and photos from my research trip.

From talking with residents I learnt about the gardens of the former Horticultural School. It's strong history in the village and current empty condition. 

 

After more research into the schools history and the plant species surviving in the garden I wanted to connect people to it once again. To bring back it's purpose as a place of education and action. Not only for tourists to the village but also for its residents.

Exploring the history and state of the former horticultural school gardens. Images from the Drents Archive & myself

The garden is empty!

 

While working on this project the slogan the garden is empty arose. But, it only started to ring true when the gardens were 'cleaned up' for the imminent visit of the Dutch king, Willem-Alexander. For the 200th anniversary of the Colonies creation.

BEFORE                                                                                                                                AFTER

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While yes, plants grow back, just as they grew once before. Is this a sustainable way to develop? Without any consideration of the history that lies in the garden, just hack it all away?

One villager noted: "It now looks like a football pitch, and we don't even have a team"

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In reaction to this happening in the garden, I wanted to give the plants a voice. A way to connect with visitors with the hope that they might have empathy and understanding for each plants importance in the garden. 

 

Through an audio installation, visitors can hear the plants talk to them about what it is like to live there. The plants tell stories from the history and  present of the garden while teaching listeners about the characteristics which define them.

To invite people into the garden I designed postcards that also double as plant identification tools. Alongside this there is the Meet me in the Garden book where each plant tells their story. Explaining their habits, likes or dislikes in a human way. Bringing life and animation to a garden that at first glance looks unloved and empty.

Snapshots of the Meet me in the Garden book and invitation.

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Listen here to a short conversation from the plants.

This project looks at sustainable development for tourism as a way to explore the spaces and knowledge that exists already instead of developing new narratives and functions. Without physically changing the space, which can be costly and polluting, this book and audio installation bring a new layer of information and interaction for visitors to the garden.

 

Frederiksoord is a place of rich history and stories that are in no way boring or outdated. More than ever we need to preserve our green spaces and allow them to recover from the control that we have exercised over 'nature'. While monocultures and uniform planting has become the norm for most gardens and farms, places that are rich and diverse in species like this garden should be celebrated and allowed to thrive.

© Content and Design by Eszter Dolák