Friday, July 27, 2012

Flower Language Friday 7.27.2012

Potentilla spp.  . . . maternal affection

A series of Art Garden posts:  a guide to communicating with flowers. 
Inspired by The Language of Flowers, by Margaret Pickston and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Monday, July 23, 2012

Garden Designers' Roundtable: Art + Garden

Art may be the ultimate focal point in the garden.  Unlike plants, which are ephemeral throughout the seasons, art can be used as a permanent statement to express one's personal identity or enforce a sense of place.  The garden itself can be used to set the stage for the artwork and provide the backdrop, frame, and foreground.  Here are a few examples of art in the landscape, and why they work so well.

Representational artwork  may best represent / reenforce a specific place.  Nothing is left to the imagination; the association between object and place is clear, and the artwork contributes additional information about the space to the viewer.

This life size bear trio looms over the entry court of a private residence in Vail, Colorado.  They look like they've just emerged from their woodland home. Notice how the white trunks of the aspen trees create a nice contrast with the dark patina of the bronze.  The colorful flowers at the base of the sculpture catch the eye (as if the bears aren't enough!) and bring them into scale. The large size and prominent location make this a major focal point for this home.

A Japanese quince (Chaenomales japonica) paired with a Japanese lantern reinforces the identity of the Japanese Garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.  Again, a bright flower companion may initially catch the eye, but the dark, evergreen background in contrast to the pale stone sculpture is key.

This statue does not reinforce its urban Denver location but is, instead, a memento or symbol of a specific time or place that's important to the owner.  This small piece is part of a vignette within a garden — a treasure to be discovered. Here, the gardener has used a  Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) with dark foliage as a contrast and color echo to the clay.  I also like the way that the water's reflection has been used to magnify the presence of this little piece. 

Abstract artwork may be viewed as the self-expression of the owner. It represents an emotion or a memory — perhaps related to a specific person, place or time — that's meaningful to the owner.

This joyful sculpture of stainless steel by Denver artist Kevin Robb, is reaching up to the clear, blue sky. It's hard, shiny, geometric form is wonderfully contrasted by the organic, undulating forms (lavender? rosemary?) beneath it. Perfection is the color echo of matte gray foliage to the steel.
photo courtesy of Kevin Robb Studios

Another whimsical art piece is this sculptural gate by Denverite Dennis West.  The lively, nature-based forms bring a hard, impersonal entryway to life.

 Sinuous curves feature in the simple, repetitive design of this sculpture (perhaps originally part of an architectural detail), which is the perfect focal point of a small meditation garden. Note how the fine textures and limited selection of the companion plants create a calm and relaxed setting.

Last, but not least . . . my favorite art piece in my garden is this tile mosaic that hangs on our patio wall, adjacent to the place that inspired it.   It was made by our daughter when she was 10 or 11 years old (sadly, it's not dated) and is simple titled "Pond."  Erin went on to earn a degree in apparel design and production from Colorado State University and became a talented textile designer. She recently opened her own business and is the proud owner of Super Good Art Stuff in the Tennyson Art District of Denver.

Art is a wonderful investment (at any price) in improving one's quality of life.  Buy (or create) what you love, and integrate it into your garden.  Read more about art in the garden from my fellow members of The Garden Designers' Roundtable, or click on the direct links to their blogs here:
Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ
Mary Gallagher Gray : Black Walnut Dispatch : Washington, D.C.
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Jenny Peterson : J Petersen Garden Design : Austin, TX
Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA
Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

Got Stone?

Last Saturday was cool and cloudy, a perfect day to visit Tribble Stone.  Located at the base of the foothills between Boulder and Lyons, Tribble is a great resource for Colorado flagstone (sandstone). They carry both the rose and buff colors, and do custom cutting right on the site.
cut stone in the foreground, "random"  (as in shapes) in the back
Here's a flagstone slab right out of the quarry.  It's about 10" thick and will be split into 3 or 4 pieces by chiseling along the edge and exploiting a natural fault line.
Jim, for scale! Note the natural cracks/faults in the slabs
Or it might go straight to the cutter.  This is a pneumatic chop blade. Awesome!  This is how dimensional stone is cut; 2'x2', 3' x 2' 18" x 18" or whatever you need, it's made to order.
8" thick slab ready to be cut.  Any guesses why this equipment is buried?

Left over bits and bobs? Not great for structural building, but beautiful as a textural element when applied as a veneer to buildings, columns, fireplaces, 
Odd sizes await the creative builder.

Their chokecherries were in fine form, too!
native chokecherry, Prunus virginiana

Note: This article was not endorsed or compensated in any way by Tribble Stone.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday 7.11.2012

A summer favorite — classic hollyhocks, Alcea rosea, seen here at Denver Botanic Gardens

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Cool Art in the Gardens

Has the heat got you down — feeling a bit wilted, drained, limp?  Our garden is looking a bit on the crispy side these days (and that's how I feel, too), so after a very hot day last week, a picnic at Denver Botanic Gardens sounded like a refreshing treat. We were not disappointed.

The gardens themselves were lovely — full to bursting with flowering plants, shady alcoves, and cooling water features. And I really loved the fantastic art installations. Not only are they large-scale abstract sculptures (not everyone's cup of tea, I know) that were built on site, they are made out of plants — bamboo, specifically.

Tetsunori Kawana created organic pieces that speak to the rolling prairies and foothills; billowing clouds and winds of the Denver region.

Contrasting lines and shapes, hard textures and soft. Stone sculpture by Colorado artist Frank Swanson.

Stephen Talasnik 's more architectural creations bridge water and sky.  Sky, we have a lot of; water, we crave.  A conduit is what we need, indeed.

I will enjoy watching these sculptures weather over the next few months (the installation lasts through November 4).  Already, the bright green bamboo of spring has taken on the golden hues of summer.

Visit Denver Botanic Gardens (check their website, as hours vary daily) and see what you can see.  I'd love to hear about your discoveries!

Note: this review is my express opinion and was not authorized, endorsed, or paid for by Denver Botanic gardens nor the artists mentioned.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012