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Dark Matter Garden

A garden for RHS Chelsea Flower Show

In 2015, Howard Miller was commissioned by the National Schools Observatory (NSO) at Liverpool John Moores University, to design a garden for the Chelsea Flower Show. The garden took on the theme of dark matter, and the affect it has on how light travels through the universe.

Engaging school children through design

The project was conceived in collaboration with Professors Mike Bode and Andy Newsam of the NSO, who wanted to find ways to communicate the complex subject of dark matter in a way that was accessible, engaging and fun. The team hoped to leave visitors wanting to know more, particularly school children who may want to work in scientific fields in the future.

A warped lattice of corten steel rods

The garden uses corten steel and planting to explore the ideas and effects of dark matter. A warped lattice of rods represents the bending trajectory of light around massive objects in the universe, which is evidence of the existence of dark matter. The invisible forces of the universe are represented by the pulse and flow of grasses moved by breezes from fans built into the garden. The design was bookended by a large oculus, representing our view from telescopes on the ground and in space; and a huge light box at the opposite end, representing sources of light in outer space.


The Dark Matter Garden was a huge success, winning a gold medal and best garden in the ‘Fresh’ category. It was widely published, and featured heavily on BBC converge of the show. Click on the links below to see more…


Project credits:

Design: Howard Miller
Client: National Schools Observatory
Landscape Contractor: Landstruction
Project Coordinators: Dori Miller / Mike Bode
Photography is by Robert Holmes.


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