A 15-tonne ice block highlights climate change at the Chelsea Flower Show

Exhibit is one of many demonstrating dangers of rising temperatures and habitat destruction

People view The Plantman's Ice Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London. PA
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After labouring for more than six hours to build a 15-tonne artwork, Ben Edson will return to the world’s most celebrated flower show this weekend to recycle the remnants.

Depending on the British weather, his ice cube — made of 120 separate blocks — is expected to be half the size at the end of the Chelsea Flower Show on Saturday.

The melting of the exhibit is a symbolic demonstration of the impact of global warming and the rapid loss of Arctic ice. As the ice melts during the course of the week-long event, more of the plants within will be revealed, the creators say.

The melting block will also reveal a charred wooden plinth — a reference to the increasing number of forest fires in the Arctic region that are further contributing to climate change.

The Plantman’s Ice Garden is a collaboration between designer John Warland, landscape company The Plantman & Co and Mr Edson, an 18-year veteran of ice sculpting.

The exhibit taps into one of the key themes of this year’s show: sustainability and protecting the environment. This year, the show includes a recreation of a beaver wetland.

The ice garden was built on Friday using cut blocks created in Mr Edson’s south-west London workshop and taken to Chelsea in a refrigerated lorry. A team than put the heavy blocks into position using forklifts until it stood 2.5 metres high.

“It was the worst combination of something very heavy and incredibly fragile,” said Mr Edson. “If you dropped one block on to another, it could shatter and we only had one shot at it.”

How fast it disappears depends on wind, sun and the rain over the course of the week.

“I would have expected after around a week, it would be about 50 per cent of what it was,” Mr Edson said.

At the end of the show, the plants will be given to a school while the ice will be recycled and reused at Hamilton Ice Sculptors, where he works.

The flower show will open on Tuesday after a preview for members of the royal family. It ends on Saturday.

Updated: May 24, 2022, 6:11 AM