Art in the Garden

By Chuck Gleaves

The 2018 Perennial Plant Association meeting in late July/early August in Raleigh, North Carolina was an opportunity to take the gardening blinders off and see and hear a few things others are achieving with their gardens. For example, I thought I knew what was going on at the famous English garden, Great Dixter, but Head Gardener Fergus Garrett’s talk revealed to me I had no idea about the scope, nature and profoundness of the gardening taking place in that great place.

Of course, we didn’t have the opportunity to visit England and Great Dixter, nor did we get to see some of the amazing other gardens and projects described in the conference’s talks. We did however travel widely to public, and private gardens in the area. For me, of course, it was all about the plants, but one thing that also struck me is the power of art to transform a garden.

One garden at a Chapel Hill home was an art piece in its entirety. It was a garden of total immersion, something right out of a fantasy world. The stylized tree seen below was a small but integral part of that garden and was instrumental in perpetuating the fantastical experience.







An entirely different sort of garden in Durham, North Carolina was Duke Gardens in the midst of the Duke University Campus. Their benches, bridges, paths, walls, pavilions and hardscape of all sorts were also works of art, but what I have chosen to feature below is one of a pair of what I would call stone mosaic medallions. They transformed an otherwise commonplace little sitting nook onto a joyful experience.






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