Artists’ Gardens


I’m researching a new project. The  general subject is gardens, of course, but the specifics are amorphous and swirling in my mind trying to identify themselves. Still, until they do, I am researching gardens. This has lead me further a field than the internet,  and back to the library. I am always happy to be reminded of what a wonderful resource a library is. I am particularly lucky to live in the Boston metropolitan area where I have access to not just the connected suburban library system, but the world renowned Boston Public Library and a number of university libraries.

Today I spent part of a rainy Sunday afternoon reading Bill Laws’ Artists’ Gardens (Trafalgar Square Publishing 1999).  The book  features the gardens of 20 artists. Most of the artists in the book may be familiar to readers’ of ofgardens : there is Renoir, and Monet, of course, and Gertrude Jekyll and William Morris, Paul Cezanne and Frida Kahlo. More men than women, sadly predictable, but also slightly incorrectly because the gardens of these artists were mostly designed and kept by the wives of the artists. By the act of painting the gardens, the ownership of the garden reverted to the artist and his wife, the true gardener, became, once again, anonymous.

There are some bright exceptions in the book. Isamu Noguchi’s garden is all his, although there isn’t any plant life in the garden. The plot twist, for me, is that the women artists featured:  Kim Ondaatje, Frida Kahlo, Gertrude Jekyll, Barbara Hepworth and Jennifer Bartlett  are both the artist and the gardener. As in gardens as in life. Women do it all.


Neonicotinoid Banned in the EU

Once again, Europe has acted before the USA on an environmental issue. The EU has banned neonicotinoids, the pesticide believed to harm bees and cause CCD (colony collapse disorder). The discussion of just how harmful neonicotinoids are continues with this article in the BBC (

The EU believes the science exists to ban the neonicotinoids, but the US and the UK takes the stance that there isn’t enough scientific evidence available to ban the substance. I first blogged about this issue in March (see March 29, 2013). Join the debate. What’s your opinion of neonicotinoids? Do you have any scientific or circumstantial evidence they are harmful?

Hydrangea High

Here’s a new one: An article in today’s Global Post claims hydrangeas can be smoked to create a marjuana-like high. Who knew?  Apparently, German teenagers knew. Gardens across  southern Germany are being raided for their hydrangeas. There is a chemical in hydrangeas from the cyanide family which causes a high. So far, this crime spree – the hydrangea thefts, it’s unknown if smoking hydrangeas is illegal – has been confined to Germany. Phew, that’s a relief! I don’t have to post security around my hydrangeas – yet.   However, now that I’ve posted this news on ofgardens the spree could travel. My blog could just be that influential. Please let me know if your hydrangeas begin to be pilfered. You’ve been warned.


Global Post: