Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Garden of my Dreams.

Throughout the entire semester I imagined myself in whatever garden style we were talking about. I would stroll through the formal baroque garden with my royal guard following quick behind or I would pace my renaissance gardens in thick robes and shabby philosophy book in my hands. Some would call these elaborate creations, daydreams, others, who would never be inclined to daydream during class would call them visual learning experiences. It is through these visual learning experiences that I found my ideal garden style.

The problem with determining a favorite style in a dream world is you’re not bound by worldly realities, such as monetary and geographical restrictions. It is for this reason I have two styles that most resonate with me, just in slightly different ways. 

My first inspiration comes from where I am from, California; the natural environment that I have access to is almost unparalleled. Vast pine forests dotted with soaring mountains, crisp rivers and raging waterfalls make up the surreal natural environment. Yosemite, Sequoia National Park, King’s Canyon, Mammoth Mountain and many other national wildlife reserves make up the Mid to Northern California region. When I imagine myself standing in a garden of my own creation with no restrictions what-so-ever, it is most often this sort of environment that comes to mind. A Landscape of pine with tall peaks and freshwater, rock-bottom rivers. Of course, without a massive expanse of land and generous financial capabilities the feasibility of a project like this is slim to none. However, the landscape style is still my favorite garden style given no restrictions.

If I live a totally average life, no 200 hectare tract of land in Northern California or $40,000,000 budget, just a comfortable, normal life, then I want a garden that is an escape from the mundane routine of normalcy. My garden would be vividly colorful and maze-like, akin to the arts and crafts gardens of Jekyll, although not so much Lutyens. I do not like anything extremely formal or geometrical. Fluid lines and blended colors can hide rooms, disguise passageways that lead to small enclaves of pools or statues. In some ways the mysticism of the garden is reminiscent of the renaissance garden, but the style is much more in line with the arts and crafts movement. While still slightly extravagant with all my childish hidden rooms and secret passage ways, this garden is much more realistic on an average consumer budget. 

Thus, the arts and crafts garden and the landscape garden are the gardens I most enjoy learning about, thinking about and would most enjoy owning. 

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens

In 1897 Gertrude Jekyll moved to Munstead Wood, the home that would serve as her garden laboratory for the next 30 years. To design and build Munstead Wood, Jekyll hired Edwin Lutyens. Lutyens was a young up and coming architect who had a flare for gardens. Gertrude Jekyll was a skilled gardener intent on experimenting with aesthetics. Jekyll and Lutyens quickly developed a close personal friendship that evolved into a successful business partnership. The two began designing country cottages connected to intricate, colorful gardens. Jekyll and Lutyens soon developed a name for themselves as leaders in the arts and crafts movement. 

The arts and crafts movement is an artistic reaction to the industrial revolution and the horrors it produced. Therefore, gardens of this time were focused on aesthetic beauty, color theory and exotic plants. The drab, formal Victorian garden was far to contained and rigid for the arts and crafts movement. However, when it came to gardening the arts and crafts movement was divided into two competing schools of thought. On the one hand were the architects who thought that the garden was an essential part of the house and the house is designed by the architect so the garden too should be designed by the architect. On the other side of the debate were the gardeners who argued that the aesthetic of the garden is only achieved through the planting and since the gardener has an extensive knowledge of plants he should design the garden. This debate was essentially settled by Jekyll and Lutyens who combined architecture and gardening to produce an improved result.

Their style was dynamic and could change according to the style of the surrounding area. However, there are many defining characteristics of a Jekyll, Lutyens garden. Firstly, Jekyll loved to experiment with color theory. She used her time at Munstead Wood to create different configurations of herbaceous borders. In fact, she was partly responsible for the popularity of herbaceous borders in the early 20th century. She would line the edges of pathways with different flowers that would create colorful combinations. Secondly, their gardens tended to focus on aesthetic beauty and would feature bright colors and exotic plants in formal arrangements. The entire garden tended to be asymmetrical and would include different “rooms” or sectioned areas each with a different theme. Artisanship was emphasized in the architecture of the garden. Hand crafted fences and benches were common and as well as pergolas and trellises. The genius of the Lutyens, Jekyll garden was in the combination of architecture and gardening. Both Jekyll and Lutyens used their expertise to design practical, aesthetically pleasing gardens that were fully integrated into the landscape of the house. 

For more information on Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens see below:

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