A 'Bee Inn' on the World Stage

Once upon a time there was an artist who became enchanted by native Australian bees. She made art that was both functional and gorgeous and sought to encourage others to appreciate the bees and other insects in home gardens. A keen student of garden design, she found herself chatting with designers at an event in Melbourne, where she worked her magic and one expressed interest in using her sculpture in a garden he was working on. 

As many of you know, that artist was my friend Joanne Diver. The landscape designer was Phillip Johnson. And the garden he was working on was the Australian garden for the Chelsea Flower show. And that's really just the start of the fairy tale.

Joanne's sculpture was shipped to the UK earlier this year, but there was no guarantee it would be used in the garden. Joanne was thrilled but in a quandary ... should she go to the UK? What if she stayed home and her sculpture did feature in the garden? Or if she went to the UK and the sculpture didn't get a start?

Joanne bit the bullet - she took her whole family to the UK earlier this month. Joanne and her husband Ian spent two days behind the scenes at Chelsea installing her scuplture, as well as assisting to construct the Australian garden. She says it's an experience she'll never forget. And to cap off the fairy tale, the judges awarded the Aussie garden not only a gold medal, but best garden in show! Woo hoo - that's huge!

Photo: The Bee Inn, on right hand side, installed in the Australian Garden. Image courtesy of Joanne Diver.

You can read more about Joanne's journey on her facebook page (you don't need to be a facebook user to view the content) - http://www.facebook.com/TheBackyardGardenEnthusiast. A recent update gives you some background as to where all the recovered and recycled components of the sculpture were sourced. And about a little role Build-It Bloke played in the mix, too. Not to mention, the page discusses how it all came to be.

Joanne has also featured in the Border Mail and been on ABC radio several times during the course of her adventure (see here and here for related content). And we can't wait to hear her reports back about the rest of the Chelsea Flower Show and other events she's been along to. 

Hearty congratulations to the Trailfinders Australian Garden presented by Flemings for their achievements in this historic 100th Chelsea Flower show, and apparently Wes Fleming's very last Chelsea garden. And hats off to Joanne, whose hard work and gumption played a far bigger part in this story than my 'fairy tale' version gives credit to!

As a follower of the show from the opposite side of the planet (yup, via the event app, twitter and media coverage I can pretend I'm also at Chelsea) I've spotted at least three other bee and insect habitat features in gardens on display (see here, here and here)  ... and I'm pretty confident there are even more!