Katrina Kieffer-Wells, explores London Landscapes. She is Earth Designs senior designer, and is always on the lookout for fresh inspiration for her garden designs. Recently she went to check out the ‘Sounds of the City’ exhibition at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. It was surprisingly interesting.

The sound of Kew Gardens. Kate Morgan

The sound of Kew Gardens. Kate Morgan

The Big Idea

The premise was simple and absorbing, comprising a showcase of images representing the many common noises that punctuate city life. It was primarily but not exclusively London based. This was a purely visual experience – the space was silent and devoid of any soundtrack.

Oranges and Lemons. Sounds of London Landscapes - George McAusland

Oranges and Lemons. Sounds of London Landscapes – George McAusland

Types of Noise

The artists explored a wide and indiscriminate range of sounds: quick and slow, noisy and quiet, lyrics, languages, mechanical, organic, the mundaneand the unexpected. They sought out sounds in tower blocks and urban gardens. Everything that could make a sound was a potential subject, including wildlife, traffic, commuters, the noise on the streets, in the bars, on the rivers. Some of the artists chose to focus on one particular theme or sound, while others took a more wide ranging approach.

Tuning onto the London scene via the tube network Sarah Perkins

London Landscapes

It really got me thinking about how you can interpret and use or controlnoises in the garden. Naturally if you live near a main road, you could use plants as a buffer to the traffic. Often the biggest use of noise in the garden will be water and how that works. If it’s fast flowing water, what would that that look like as a picture? Other influences of sound on garden designs design might include the sound of birdsong, of children playing, or the wind rustling in the trees. Sound is probably the most underused all of
the senses in garden design. We usually consider what the garden looks like first, and then, depending on what we plant, may consider scent, touch and texture as well. But I rarely consider sound unless it is to deploy a feature to solve a problem.

As a garden designer it is important to recognise all of the senses and to try and ensure that you have fed them in one way or another to your designs.

Katrina is always on the lookout for garden design inspiration. If you have a Garden needs some creative solutions, please get in touch. To see more London Landscapes and Soundscapes please visit ‘Sounds of the City’ on our Facebook page.