Garden Color Inspiration: Black

A few years ago, when Paul Bonine’s book Black Plants was released everyone went gaga over the drama of black foliage and flowers, it’s taken a while for everything else to catch up.

Black Plants

Black has long been part of the garden via ironwork, but now I’m seeing, in my real and virtual travels black walls, accessories, and all other uses outside.  If navy blue was surfacing as a trend earlier this year, black certainly is now.  Here are the ideas.

Small patio wall and black chairs
image via The Guardian

Black decking and walls for a contemporary home.

Black decking and walls
Image via Design Milk.

A similar theme in a more rustic setting.

Black house wall as a patio foil
Image via femina

Black planters…the green just pops!

Black planters
Image via the author

Black cushions draw focus to the otherwise neutral space.

Black cushions
Image via la bisuiterie

Garden Designers Roundtable: Art or Garden?

I suspect that most people think about art in the garden as a well placed sculpture or even a beautifully designed border, but what happens when artists and designers create a garden as art from the get go?  Do we consider it a garden or is it art?

There are garden festivals  devoted to conceptual garden design that celebrate outdoor space as a possibility for creating ‘garden’ art on a large scale.  I’m a huge fan of these spaces as they challenge me as all great art does…to think.   They go beyond what we typically view as a garden, yet they incorporate plants, soil, hardscape, and found/built objects just as our own gardens do.  Sometimes they’re pretty, sometimes they’re not.

Is this a garden or art or both?  Perhaps it’s neither and just odd.  Whatever the answer, it’s thought provoking.

15 Knots

Designed by ATLAS and Ford Lipschitz  at the 13th iteration of the Festival of Gardens at Reford Gardens in Quebec explores how wind affects our perception of landscape.  Fans behind lathe walls turn off and on.  The landscape changes as the flags blow or not.  The noise is also part of the experience…although I couldn’t include that here. 

A garden or art or both?

Topher Delaney’s garden at Cornerstone in California is closer to what most consider to be a garden, however minimal.  Why?  It has all of the pre-requisite elements–a wall, plants, gravel and a place to sit (the rope spheres).  This space also invites people to interact with it by moving the spheres.  Does an outdoor space need human interaction to be considered a garden, if so is it still art?

Blue Stick Garden

Also at Reford, the Blue Stick Garden by CLaude Cormier has traditional garden elements…plants, a boardwalk and vertical elements.  Garden or art or both?

Whatever the answer, as I said before, they make me think and look at what I do in a new way.  I find these gardens to be inspiring (yes, I think they’re all gardens) to such an extent that I want to visit the most famous garden festival in France,  the International Garden Festival at Chaumont which has happened every summer for the past 20 years.  Maybe next summer…

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

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

Window Box

Contemporary Containers in an Old City

Off I went with a friend last week to points north. The midpoint stop of our journey was Quebec City.  Surrounded by stone ramparts with arched entry gates, the old city there is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates back to the early 1600s. It is also very much a living and breathing 21st part of the city with apartments, shops, restaurants, banks and tons of tourists. What surprised me were the contemporary containers.

Window Box
Chicken wire, painted branches, pots, willow plant supports and geraniums

Artistic and original, they were throughout the city as window boxes, freestanding freestanding bowls or wall mounts.

Window boxes
Connected and fluid…around a corner

Plants were combined with other materials from chicken wire, to painted bamboo poles to 1 x 1 boards nailed together in a wild cascade.

Vertical planting
A column planted and maintained by the city

Some were planted and maintained by the city (the container above was one of several) and others by businesses and residents.

Window decoration
Cascading pots over a restaurant window box
Window boxes
Red bamboo poles and geraniums on a hotel facade

There were many more than what I’ve shared here…another post may be in order once I’ve had a chance to unpack and digest all I saw.