Gavin to defy garden lift ban

Diarmuid Gavin is defying Chelsea Flower Show chiefs by vowing to take visitors up his 80ft (24m) high pyramid garden in a lift.

Royal Horticultural Society officials have ordered Mr Gavin to keep the public off his seven- storey tower because they will “spoil the view”.

The maverick television gardener insists he will let eight people at a time ascend throughout the world famous event that opens on Tuesday.

Mr Gavin revealed he also flouted a ban from show organisers last year on taking the public up in the air to admire his Sky Garden at close quarters. He admitted he took visitors 82ft up in a bright pink “flying” pod suspended from a huge crane.

Speaking as he supervised building of his latest creation, the Magical Tower Garden, a defiant Mr Gavin said: “If people really want to come up we’ll let them. We can take eight people up at a time.

“This garden gives people great views of the River Thames that you never normally get at Chelsea. My favourite bit of the garden is the top storey. I have an office there where I can hide away from everybody.

“Everyone said I wouldn’t be able to take people up in my pod last year too but, in fact, I did.

“I like to do the unexpected. My garden is a different experience to other gardens here. It’s all about raising our game.

“It’s very important being from Ireland wanting to do ambitious stuff because we’re going through a difficult time back home.

“Chelsea is a place to express yourself. Chelsea’s showbusiness. And I like to entertain. Perhaps sometimes I provoke, too.”

Gardening writer Matthew Appleby was one of the first to be taken to the top of the tower and said the ascent was not for the fainthearted.

He said: “You go up six floors by lift and then you have to climb a ladder to the seventh. If you were scared of heights you’d be feeling pretty nervous. But it is exhilarating when you reach the top and get the best view you could ever have of the whole show.

“It is a towering garden for a towering ego but Diarmuid is a great showman and anyone who gets to go up will remember his garden for a long time.”

The former Gardeners’ World presenter’s decision to take people up puts him on a collision course with show organisers.

Show manager Alex Denman said: “There will be no public access to Diarmuid’s garden or any of the others.”

The garden will include birch trees, bamboo, and vegetables. It is made from black scaffolding with the lift running up its centre. It also boasts wrought iron staircases and a slide.

Ms Denman said the structure has lightning rods and has been checked by health and safety inspectors to ensure it is safe in the wind.

Mr Gavin won his first gold medal at Chelsea last year, 15 years after his debut.


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