NSO: Dark Matter

NSO: Dark Matter - a 'Fresh' Garden at RHS Chelsea 2015

The National Schools’ Observatory and our trusty garden team, Howard Miller (Designer), Dori Miller (Horticulturalist) and David Binks with his crew from Landstruction would like to thank Liverpool John Moores University, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (with special thanks to Colin Johnson), Urbis Design, Asterios Agkathidis and all our suppliers for helping us win in the Fresh category at the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The judges results are in...we won a Gold Medal AND Best Fresh Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015!


Gold and Best Fresh Garden!

We won Gold!

Howard being presented with our Gold Medal

The garden team, L-R, Andy, Mike, Howard, Dori and David


#RHSChelsea Best Fresh Garden goes to #DarkMatter Garden for National Schools’ Observatory!

— The RHS (@The_RHS) May 19, 2015


BBC Coverage

BBC Two - Episode 13

RHS Chelsea Flower Show - 2015: Episode 13 we are featured at 06:15 minutes.



BBC Two - Episode 10

RHS Chelsea Flower Show - 2015: Episode 10 we are featured at 47 minutes, or you can take a look at the downloadable clip (14.7mb).



BBC One - Episode 2

RHS Chelsea Flower Show - 2015: Episode 2 we are featured at 13:26 minutes, or you can take a look at the downloadable clip (9.22mb).


BBC One - Episode 1

We were lucky enough to be the backdrop for discussions about the Fresh and Artisan gardens in the first RHS Chelsea Flower Show TV show, you can watch this episode online for around a month after the original air date (skip along to 40 minutes if you want to hear about us, or we have a downloadable clip (7.69mb) available) RHS Chelsea Flower Show - 2015: Episode 1


BBC Wiltshire

BBC Radio Wiltshire, Jonathan Fido & Karen Gardner, 19 May 2015

Andy Newsam speaking about the garden (4.06mb) on BBC Radio Wiltshire.



BBC Radio Wiltshire, Simeon Courtie, 18 May 2015

Howard Miller and Andy Newsam speaking about the garden (6.16mb) on BBC Radio Wiltshire.


BBC Radio Wiltshire - Facebook Site


BBC Merseyside

BBC Radio Merseyside, Simon Hoban, 19 May 2015

Andy Newsam speaking about the garden (4.94mb) on BBC Radio Merseyside.




BBC News

Dark matter and bright blooms at the Chelsea Flower Show

"...An astrophysics professor at a flower show seems incongruous, but Prof Mike Bode, from Liverpool John Moores University, has helped create a garden inspired by dark matter - the elusive stuff that seems to make up so much of space but that no-one has quite got a handle on yet..."


The Garden in the Press

RHS Site

Designed by Howard Miller Design Ltd
Built by Landstruction
Sponsored by Science and Technology Facilities Council, Liverpool John Moores University, Urbis Design

This garden is the latest example of the National Schools’ Observatory’s mission to use astronomy to enthuse young people about science and technology and its presence at Chelsea 2015 is highly appropriate in the centenary year of Einstein’s theory of general relativity where the bending of light by gravity was first predicted.


Liverpool Echo - 16 May 2015

"Liverpool John Moores University has teamed up with the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show to help explain the workings of the universe. Through clever design and planting the team from the university’s National Schools’ Observatory has created a garden to explore Dark Matter and its effect on light."


The Telegraph - 15 May 2015 - Bunny Guinness gets a sneak preview of the Chelsea Flower Show

"In the Fresh zone the Dark Matter Garden by Howard Miller is designed to inspire the study of science through astrophysics. Viewers are encouraged to linger and appreciate it on simpler levels too. A huge bowl that looked as though it was made of rusted mild steel was in fact a one-off made of concrete (less expensive than steel); painted with rust paint, it was totally convincing. It was made by Urbis Design from York and cost about £1,200. Curving around this at ground level was a grill made of rusty reinforcing rods that formed a section of paving with shade-tolerant plants growing underneath them. Rusty benches were formed to reflect the curves too. I thought it was all Corten steel but in fact was made of (much cheaper) mild steel. This small garden is clever and highly original."


The Telegraph - 15 May 2015 - Chelsea Flower Show inspiration: three of the best small gardens

“...I think you can make a garden out of anything,” says Howard. “It’s an artistic interpretation of scientific principle, but to succeed, it’s crucial that you have the scientists on board to say, yes that is a sound interpretation or no, you’ve misinterpreted it. It has to be scientifically sound because the whole point of the garden is to get more children – and especially more girls – into science, by tapping into their innate fascination with space...”


Reckless Gardener - April 2015

Ash & Bee Garden Design Blog - March 2015


Social Media

Completely lost for words, just been awarded Best Fresh Garden! #RHSChelsea #DarkMatter garden.

— Landstruction (@Landstruction) May 19, 2015


Storifying the #RHSChelsea Dark Matter garden from @STFC_Matters, @LJMU & @SchoolsObs: http://t.co/e2Gp7aBUeM Innovative #publicengagement

— Derek Gillespie (@DAGillespie) May 18, 2015


The Dark Matter Garden - my favourite at #RHSChelsea this year https://t.co/WGsiKqF61i

— Dawn Isaac (@DawnIsaac) May 18, 2015


We’re so excited about our Dark Matter garden at #RHSChelsea that we’re putting together a Storify at http://t.co/LOwl4qjbVf @schoolsobs

— STFC (@STFC_Matters) May 18, 2015


Dark Matter - the freshest of the Fresh. Smart & Beautifully pic.twitter.com/zD8uk2c7wN

— Toby Buckland (@TobyBuckland) May 17, 2015


Dark Matter Fresh garden @The_RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a triumph. Wonderful design & certainly fresh! pic.twitter.com/VOKMTz8rIS

— Paula McWaters (@LifeandSoil) May 17, 2015


The Finished Garden

Looking towards the Oculus Looking through the Oculus The Build Team


The Build Phase Has Started!

The Starbusrt FloorThe OculusPlantingThe Starbust Floor with PlantingThe Starbust Floor with Planting

Design Drawings

Side view of the NSO: Dark Matter Garden
3D view of the NSO: Dark Matter Garden
Top view of the NSO: Dark Matter Garden


Dark Matter in the News

BBC News, 15 April 2015: Dark matter becomes less 'ghostly'

BBC Radio Four, 12 March 2015: Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss dark matter