It’s the beginning of the GARDEN TOUR season and I have been busy visiting gardens all over Massachusetts. I enjoy Garden Tours, they enable my voyeuristic streak. This year I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some truly individual gardens where I have learned something from the gardener which I hope to incorporate into my garden. From a gardener in Cambridge I saw his fabulous Martagon lilies and he shared the name of a nursery where I can get them; a gardener in Needham has a small berry orchard and so much more…he told me about a great place to source leaf mulch; in other gardens I kept seeing Henry’s Garnet itea and eventhough I knew of the plant I hadn’t seen it in a garden and didn’t recognize it. I asked the name and am now determined to have one or two in my own garden. I don’t always learn something when I visit a garden, so when I do I feel doubly lucky, one I’ve gotten to see someone else’s garden vision, and best of all, I have learned something new.
So from now until the my last Garden Tour visit this year, which will be sometime in September, I will continually ask myself “What makes a good Garden Tour?” I know what I think, but I’m more interested in what you think. What do you think makes a good Garden Tour? Write me and let me know your opinions.
The Norwegian government announced last week the winner of the Memorial Sites after 22 July competition. The winner is Jonas Dahlberg of Sweden who has designed three innovative memorials to commemorate the 22 July 2011 massacres in Norway.
The most stirring of the 3 memorials is the highly successful memorial landscape called Memory Wound. It will be an 11-foot gap literally cut through the Sorbraten peninsula.
Dahlberg’s ambitious design is impressive in its concept and engineering. Its visual simplicity belies the complexity of thought behind its creation. Dahlberg describes his proposed intent for the site as “it should be difficult to see the inherent beauty of the setting, without also experiencing a sense of loss. It is this sense of loss that will physically activate the site…People will find their own way through the landscape around the cut, looking down at the channel and at the victims’ names from high up…establishing their own private ways of seeing and remembering…The void that is created evokes the sense of sudden loss combined with the long-term missing and remembrance of those who perished. The proposal is radical and brave, and evokes the tragic events in a physical and direct manner.”
In the heart of Seattle WA, right next to the iconic Space Needle, exists the innovative Chihuly Garden and Glass. It is named for its creator, Dale Chihuly, the American glass sculptor considered to be the world premier glass artist. Chihuly himself has had a lifelong love of conservatories and has wanted to create a glass house for over 30 years. The 2012 reinvigoration of Seattle center allowed him to build his dream when the city approached him to create a project on a 1.5-acre plot. His Seattle glass house is inspired by two of his favorites buildings – London’s Crystal Palace (no longer extant) and Sainte Chappelle in Paris. These sources of inspiration are apparent in the scale of the glass house as it towers at 40 feet tall, covers 4500 square feet of space and houses one of Chihuly’s largest and most ambition work of art to date.
Despite the fact there are no new concepts in the garden – it consists of a glass house, plants and garden sculptures – the combination of these age-old garden denizens gathered together with new vision creates a clever 21st century garden. The glass house is more cathedral than common, and the fact that the garden sculptures are glass works by the master himself elevates them from the fate of being humble garden statuary to fine art. Amidst the splendor of the glass house and sculptures one might almost think that the plants are irrelevant but that is not at all the case. The plants are the perfect backdrops for showcasing the sculptures, and the sculptures offset the plants to perfection.
I love this garden. To enter the garden one walks through dark exhibition halls, into the voluminous glass house and then out into the garden itself. The progression from dark halls to glass house to outside garden, consciously or not, increases the awe of standing in such a spacious glass house under Chihuly’s magnificent, intensely colored sculpture. One is dwarfed by all that glass, and then exits out into the very human scale garden. I think it would have been a lot of fun to be the landscape designer for this project but that fun went to AHBL Landscape Architecture. They didn’t choose rare or exotic plants or a complicated planting plan for the garden. There is nothing exceptional, or even exciting, among the plants. There are Japanese maples, dogwood, magnolia, laurels, roses, viburnum, geranium, hellebores, asters, daylilies, sedums, daffodils and grasses – everything and nothing you wouldn’t find in a serious gardener’s garden. Yet the appeal of the garden is strong and it comes from its simplicity of design, its color harmony, its proximity to the glass house, and, of course, the presence of the glass sculptures.
Like every successful garden, each season brings different delights. I had just missed the rhododendrons in bloom, but did catch how even their fading flowers reflected the color of the sculpture.
I can’t decide if it is a good thing or a bad thing that I live in a climate that won’t permit a Chihuly glass sculpture in my garden. It is perhaps a good thing because I could never afford one, but it is oh too bad that I am not able to have at least one.
Gardens for Health International representatives recently came to speak at my garden club. Unfortunately, Gardens for Health are not on the Garden Club speakers circuit, so my club was lucky.
Gardens For Health International http://gardensforhealth.org/ is an organization which is working to provide a longterm solution to the problem of childhood malnutrition. Founded in 2007 by three American college women, GFH aims to provide targeted agricultural support and health education to the caregivers of children with malnutrition. The center of their work is a 5 acre farm outside Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. On the farm there is a nursery, vegetable gardens, and a training center.
I was shocked to learn that education is a large part of Gardens for Health’s mission because there is a whole generation of mothers and grandmothers who were murdered during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. This lost generation was not there to teach a younger generation traditional Rwandan cooking, so many skills were lost. Gardens for Health is educating young Rwandans about, among other things, traditional, local, easily available vegetables to replace the largely corn-based diet that has taken over in Rwanda.
I am a believer in the healing principles of gardens. Gardens for Health have taken this belief to the grass roots level and is teaching a new generation the physical health benefits of good nutrition, which starts with healthy food from healthy gardens, as well as the community and spiritual benefits of gardens. I give them my support and wish them the best of luck.
I was in Atlanta, Georgia last week – my first time! – to attend the Garden Blogger’s Conference. I took an early flight out on Sunday morning so I would have time to visit The Atlanta Botanical Gardens. As always when I travel, I like to visit at least one new garden.
I like Botanical Gardens. I make an effort to visit the Botanical Gardens of every town or city I am in which has one. In addition to learning about new flora and fauna, I think Botanical Gardens can offer a good reflection of the character of a locale; a visit often gives me a hint of local culture. And so it was with the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Atlanta is a city which has grown enormously in size, wealth and influence over the past couple of decades and this is reflected at the Botanical Garden. There are numerous plaques thanking donors, or given in honor of donors, or given by donors to commemorate someone, indicating a large influx of capital over the past 10 -15 years. I found the many plaques to be distracting, however they are a necessary byproduct of fundraising. The upside of all this fundraising are the large, immaculate, diverse gardens: a vegetable garden, a children’s garden, a rock garden, a rose garden, a berry garden, an orchid house, a very sophisticated suspended walkway through woodlands (and over a road), among other pleasures.
A big and very welcome surprise was the temporary exhibition of Imaginary Worlds, a collection of mosaiculture sculptures by Mosaiculture Internationales de Montreal (www.mosiaculture.ca) All summer I have been reading on the blogosphere – including at http://glenvilla.blogspot.com/, and http://torontogardens.blogspot.com/ – about the fabulous mosaiculture exhibition at the Montreal Botanical Gardens and wishing I had been able to visit Montreal to see it. What luck that, without my knowing, there was an equally fabulous mosiaculture exhibition in Atlanta.
Mosiaculture is, simple definition, horticultural art. Live plants are mounted onto wire sculptures to create living artworks using a colorful palette of different foliage. The origins of mosaiculture date back to the 16th century in Europe in the form of embroidered and compartmentalized gardens known as parterre. The term “mosaiculture” was used for the first time in France in the late 1860s in reference to the mosaic-like appearance of the surfaces of planted sculptures. The word and art form were resurrected in 1998 in Montréal by Mosaiculture Internationales de Montréal. They launched the first international mosaiculture competition in 2000 in Montréal to promote gardening and horticulture as an expression of new millennium values. How great is that!?!
These sculptures are not simple to produce. First artisan welders, working from designer sketches, photos and sometimes maquettes, weld together pencil steel to create the unique figures. During this construction phase the welders must bear in mind how six inches of plant material will transform the shape.
Meanwhile plants are being grown in greenhouses to fit the sculptures. When the frames are finished, they are shipped to the greenhouses, wrapped in stretchy shade cloth and stuffed with specialized planting material. Thousands of plants are then plugged into place. The sculptures stay several months in the greenhouses until they yield the colorful, living textures on view to the public. Once in place daily maintenance is required to keep them groomed and free of pests and disease. Frequent trimming and shearing is key to preserving the artistic lines. Drip irrigation systems, pop-up sprinklers and hand watering are also necessary to keep the plants hydrated. The end results are delightful, and, like all garden art, ephemeral. The majority of plants used in mosaiculture are annuals and with winter coming and so cooler temperatures they will not last much longer. Both mosaiculture exhibitions in Atlanta and Montréal end this month.
I must say I was so absorbed with the diversity of the different gardens and the mosaiculture sculptures that I hardly noticed the plants. I will have to go back. Has anyone been to a Botanical Garden recently?
As some of you you may recall ( OfGardens July 16, 2013 Daylily Delights) I am having a real summer crush on day lilies. After many hours of sighing and coveting the day lilies of others, I decided to be proactive and pursue my new love interest. I have created my own day lily bed.
Here in Nova Scotia where I spend part of the summer there is an excellent day lily nursery, Canning Daylily Garden (http://canningdaylilygardens.yolasite.com), which I have been wanting to visit for quite some time. On a gorgeous summer’s day, a friend and I drove to Canning with a long list of wants. Almost immediately upon arrival Ryan Ward, the owner, greeted us and offered help. From that moment until we drove off he never left our sides and was extremely helpful in every way: he found the day lilies on our list, chose from those available the ones with the largest fans, packed them up, carried them to the car, loaded the car AND gave us each two free day lilies because of the number of plants we purchased. We had a lot of fun acquiring the day lilies, which is always a good harbinger for a project.
Back at my cottage, it was time to plant. I had dug a trench 22 feet long by 2 feet wide and 12 inches deep. I filled the bottom of the trench with composted manure,
and then the rest with a combination of old and new soil.
I then planted the day lilies 20 inches apart, more or less. This is a little wider apart then most often recommended, 12 – 18 inches is the popular recommendation, but I don’t want to have to divide the bed anytime soon so I over compensated with space now. Watered deeply (and often since), then mulched. It is so easy to plant in a new bed filled with fresh soil!
My new bed of daylilies are all red: Doug’s Red Mercedes, Baja, Little Zinger, Mildred Brothers, Imperial Fire, Imperial Guard, and Crown Fire. Hopefully, this is what my daylilies will look like this time next year:
The Beatrix Farrand Society (http://www.beatrixfarrandsociety.org) held it’s first ever seminar last Saturday, July 27. I was among the attendees from 15 states who gathered in Bar Harbor, Maine to enjoy Preserving Beatrix Farrand Gardens, a day devoted to discussion of Farrand’s private gardens. The seminar, organized by Judith Tankard, landscape historian and Society member, with sponsorship from The Garden Conservancy (https://www.gardenconservancy.org) was held to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Society with the 2003 purchase of Garland Farm, Farrand’s final home in Bar Harbor.
The panelists were:
(Listed in order of presentation)
Judith Tankard – Opening Remarks
Paula Deitz – 1980 Farrand Seminar at Dumbarton Oaks
Bill Noble – Garden Succession in Garden Conservancy
Elizabeth Mills – Restoring the Farm House
Katherine H. Kerin – Bellefield Restoration
Melanie Anderson Bourbeau – Restoring Hill-Stead’s Sunken Garden
Carole Plenty – Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden
Gail Griffin – Dumbarton Oaks in the 21st Century
Ann Aldrich & Rebecca Trafton – Restoring Dumbarton Oaks Park
An intangible but very real benefit of attending such a seminar is not just the exposure to the information presented. It is to sit in a room, collect together for lunch, and gather together on the Terrace Garden at Garland Farm with scholars, hobbyists, gardeners and fans of Beatrix Farrand and share the collective knowledge and enthusiasm for the work of a woman who hugely influenced the course of American Landscape design in it’s nascent years in the early 20th century. Not quite a lovefest, but more than a seminar, last weekend in Bar Harbor reflected the high level of admiration and devotion of Farrand cognoscenti. Farrand was highly respected and sought after professionally in her day, and she continues to inspire loyalty among garden historians and enthusiasts who have gone to great lengths to preserve, restore and chronicle her work.
The last event of an eventful day was a reception at Garland Farm. On a perfect midsummer evening we gathered to admire the newly restored Terrace Garden, a labor of love accomplished by Master Gardeners over a period of years (2007 -2013), view the Herbarium on display in the barn, pass through the beloved green door which Farrand brought with her from Reef Point, and walk among the rooms where Farrand walked. The talk was of gardens: how to preserve them, how to document them, how to restore them, how to do them. I believe Mrs. Farrand would be pleased.