Sunday, November 06, 2005

Garden Artistry

If you're like me, you'd rather visit a postage-stamp sized garden with really cool plants and art over a meticulously coiffed estate garden any day. What I seek in a garden is unusual plants (or usual plants used in an unusual way), art, a sense of humor, wonder and personality... and a healthy dose of disorder. Uh-oh... did I just describe myself? Don't answer that.

As for art, I'm not referring to the fancy schmancy repro greco-blecho kind. Don't get me wrong... estate gardens are attractive and impressive in all their grandiosity... they just don't float my boat. They impress too easily. They buy your affections.

I happen to be more impressed by a garden's ingenuity and daring rather than its financial means. I want to see what kind of garden you can make from a hand-hewn sculpture piece or a broken dish or a piece of scavenged driftwood. And plants. Plants from friends, plants rescued from the sale table at Target, plants you splurged on at Annie's Annuals. Plants you actually planted.

Two garden artists whose work I admire are Keeyla Meadows and Marcia Donahue. Both are East Bay artists. I will probably never be in a position to buy one of Keeyla's gazillion-dollar sculptures, but maybe a pot... someday. And a bench. And a little table.

A lot of really inspirational garden artists and nurseries call the East Bay home-- Keeyla, Marcia, Berkeley Hort, Annie's Annuals, The Dry Garden, Planet Horticulture and more. Perhaps it's the mild and mellow climate that nurtures this brand of horticulture. Whatever it is, I love it. I aspire to it. I am inspired by it.

The following books help to illustrate my kind of garden:


  1. Anonymous1:50 PM

    What a wonderful description of the type of gardening I love and admire as well. I can appreciate those large gardens, but can't relate. Thanks for the really long list of books to add to my already really long list of books I want.

    You're a doll!

  2. Thanks, Jessica. See you at the next Garden Bookaholics meeting?


  3. Anonymous8:44 AM

    I love all types of gardens. Sometimes big money gardens are fun to look! As long as the owners are actually gardeners. Martha Stewart's gardens are gorgeous.

  4. Yes, there's no denying big money gardens are fun to look at, but they do tend to be devoid of personality. Prove me wrong... I'm begging you! Examples! As for Martha, I love her and all her Connecticutness, but I do believe her gardens are primarily planted and tended by employees. True, it's her vision they're carrying out, but I still can't help wondering things like, "Hey, does Martha have all those chickens in her garden because she likes to collect fresh eggs every morning, or does she have them because they look nice and farmy in the background of her TV show?" I guess what I'm left with in a formal estate garden is a desire to see the person (or people) behind the garden. I want to see the art of the gardener, not the artifice of the garden.

  5. Let me rephrase that. I love Martha and all her New Yorkness.

    (New York-AP, Oct. 31, 2005 2:30 PM) _ Martha Stewart tells Fortune Magazine she plans to sell her famous Turkey Hill Farm in Westport.

    She says she hardly ever goes there anymore and does not miss it.

    Stewart now spends most of her time at her home in Katonah, New York, on 153-acre estate in the rolling horse country 40 miles north of midtown Manhattan. She bought the property in 2000 for $16 million .

    Stewart had been a fixture in Westport since 1971, when she and her former husband, Andrew, purchased the nine-room, 19th-century Colonial house and gated Turkey Hill estate for $50,000. They spent the next decade renovating the home and added chicken coops, barns and gardens.

    But in 2000, Stewart said Westport had changed from a small town where butchers knew their customers' names to a place with a "more elitist, and much less charming, retail scheme."