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.
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.
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?
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…