Lincoln academics grow garden with Twitter at Chelsea Flower Show

A team of academics for the University of Lincoln are using the social network Twitter to grow and manage their garden at the 100th RHS Chelsea Flower Show between May 21-25.

The garden, called Digital Capabilities, responds to live Twitter activity, so the public can influence how the garden looks at any time.

The Lincoln team, made up of the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, School of Psychology and School of Architecture, are working alongside designers Harfleet & Harfleet to build the garden.

The structure was constructed by a team of staff and students from the School of Architecture led by Senior Lecturer Richard Wright

It will be divided diagonally by an autonomous-panelled screen, that will separate two planting zones.

Those visiting the garden will see a range of common plants in one zone, with a variety of more exotic plants partially hidden from view behind the screen in the other.

The more excitement there is on Twitter about the Flower Show though, the screen will reveal more of the inner depth of the garden.

Shaun Lawson, Professor of Social Computing at the University’s School of Computer Science, said: “One of the things we’re trying to do through our research is to understand how digital media can be made to meaningfully intersect with the physical world.

“The garden is an opportunity to explore aspects of how we can interweave social media data with real space, as well as how it is possible to make sense of this data by creating thought-provoking visualisations.

“The planting inside represents the exotic or unknown immaterial world of the internet, moderated and revealed by our desire for knowledge and interaction.”

Head of Psychology at the University of Lincoln Professor Harriet Gross added: “I am interested in why gardens can be so important to our psychological well-being.

“Gardens often provide a space where people can think about things away from their day-to-day routines. They can also be places for public celebration and to share with friends and family.

“To reflect the variety of roles gardens can play in emotional and psychological well-being, our exhibit will contrast two distinct types of garden: one is familiar, available and safe. The other is hidden and exotic.

“Most importantly, the experience of the garden will be determined by people’s responses to it.”

To learn more about the project, visit the Digital Capabilities website, or follow the garden on Twitter. Tweet about the garden show to see the Lincoln garden react and use the hashtag, #rhschelsea.