5 Questions For Leon Kluge

Die Groenste Vingers is a reality competition series where 15 of the country’s top flower fundis compete to be crowned as having Die Groenste Vingers. Participants take part in different weekly challenges where they must each design and create unique floral arrangements, after which judges decide who will bloom and flourish, and who will wilt…

Leon Kluge – Judge

Leon is an internationally recognised landscape designer, artist, botanist, presenter and writer who was born and raised in the Lowveld’s botanical gardens. He has won several prizes around the world, including Gold awards for his gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2010 and 2012.

Leon also won gold at the Shenzhen International Garden Show in China – the first South African garden artist to achieve this accolade at this world-class garden show.

Leon is known for his modern and contemporary landscapes, sustainable community projects and his specialisation in vertical gardens.

We recently sat down with Leon Kluge, one of the judges on Die Groenste Vingers, and asked him 5 questions, to learn a bit more about him.

You are dealing with a show where there are flowers and plants in abundance for the competitors to use. Do folks ever gift you with a huge bouquet on a special occassion, or are they too afraid to do it because they might think you will not appreciate it?

I think folks might be afraid to give me flowers as a gift because they might think that I am too critical, but its not true at all… I love all flowers, never mind their colours or fragrance, but appreciate a little plant that I can plant in the garden much more. That makes me very happy!  

Do you stealthily nab a cutting from somebody’s garden because you can not resist it?

I am definitely guilty of ‘liberating’ a seed or two. I have yet to meet a serious gardener that has not done it. Where cuttings are concerned, I will always ask first, because even though gardeners are generally friendly souls, they can be fierce if they catch you with a looted cutting in your pants.

Have you shaken hands with the queen of England and had a conversation with her at Chelsea?

I have been privileged to be in the Queen’s presence at Chelsea, but it was so fast and awe-inspiring that it was all over before I had even managed the bowing thing. But, our gardens at Chelsea were very popular amongst royalty!  

Have you ever nicked a finger with a pair of sharp flower scissors or secateurs?

There is no finger or toe on my body which has not been nicked yet. I sometimes get way too familiar with these tools which cut me down to size over and over again!  

It must be very scary for the competitors to do challenging floral art before the cameras and the judges. Has anyone ever given up or burst into tears?  

It is truly difficult to work under such pressure, but it is part of the trade, and if one is busy with any function and especially a wedding,  time is of the essence while the mother of the bride will be constantly looking over your shoulder with a frown. So, you bite the bullet and try to look calm, while crying a few inside tears.  

Catch season 2 of Die Groenste Vingers from Wednesday 26 October 2022 on DStv kykNET channel 144.

The Gardener