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The Perfume Garden | RHS Chelsea Flower Show Read text
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“Take eight grains of musk and put in rose-water eight spoonfuls, three spoonfuls of damask-water, and a quarter of an ounce of sugar. Boil for five hours and strain it”

This original recipe for a perfume created by Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th Century, was the inspiration for the Perfume Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, a garden that reached back into history and literally touched the past through our sense of smell.

Envisioned as a striking spiral form, the swirling garden design was inspired by the pattern of seeds in a sunflower head or the spiralling arrangement of leaves on many plant stems. The planted swirl started low at its extremities, representing the low-lying plants, roots and even fungi used in perfume making.

The perfumery itself was housed in a shroud of stainless steel. Here the intricate design can be read as a metaphor for the flower head – the delicate stamen, stigma and pistil – surrounded by an abstract petal canopy reaching out to entice visitors to step into its shade, see the perfume distillation process and smell samples of the Elizabeth I perfume produced especially for the Chelsea Flower Show.

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