Biosonification: Chelsea Flower Show

What do mushrooms sound like?

Chelsea Flower Show is held for five days every May by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in Chelsea, London, and is attended by an average of 157,000 visitors.

In 2023, guests have been able to visit The Balance Garden by The Centre for Mental Health (then awarded with a Silver medal), which includes a 'mushroom den' made from a reclaimed steel-clad shipping container.

Designed by Wild City Studio, the den features a multi-speaker sound installation by Swell founder Brian d'Souza.

Brian relied on PlantWave technology to pick up electrical variations of various wildflowers and mushroom species featured in the garden, then used the MIDI conversions to turn them into sound in his studio.

The final piece, called Shiitake, is, in Brian's words, 'quite beguiling, uncanny, slightly moody, yet peaceful'.

All life forms emit electronic signals. I've converted them into midi-notes which is a way of digitising music and used that to compile a soundtrack.

I have used multiple speakers hidden across the garden to create a living soundscape, all composed by the plants themselves.

Brian d'Souza, Swell founder and CEO