Thursday, 4 July 2019

Show gardens at Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 2019

Beautiful day for the Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival - where the predominant theme over all the show gardens is the future for gardens and managed space in the face of climate change and weather extremes. Several of the others explore how gardens can help with physical and mental rehabilitation.
My personal favourites are the Stop and Pause garden, which I think brings a real sense of balance and harmony to a small garden in a very accessible way. And of course, the Drought Tolerant Garden created in homage to Beth Chatto, who died last year. This garden was attracting huge crowds today (almost more than for the RHS garden co-created by the Duchess of Cambridge) and deservedly so - the planting is beautiful throughout, just as at the original Beth Chatto gardens in Elmstead Market.

Dream of the Indianos garden, which reflects the style of the gardens created by migrants returning to northern Spain at the end of the 19th century after years in the Caribbean. 

You can see many of these gardens throughout Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria on the north coats of Spain: the signature palms, and profusion of hydrangeas and agapanthus are unmistakable markers of the historic northern Spanish garden.

Beautiful planting in the Drought Tolerant garden, which attracted huge crowds throughout the day.

The Drought Tolerant garden - a tribute to Beth Chatto with many of the plants echoing those in her Dry Garden.

I loved the distinctive planting, especially this juxtaposition of bright pink Astilbe and Asarum europaeum under the birch trees (if there is a tree of the show this year, it would be Betula and all its varieties)

The Stop and Pause Garden, inspired by meditation and the various ways in which it can be practised. A lovely calm space, beautifully balanced.


Now this is how to build a vertical succulent garden: a show-stopping display at Surreal Succulents in the Floral Marquee

Another garden with planting designed to adapt to increasingly dry and unpredictable conditions: fascinatingly diverse planting in the Thames Water Flourishing Future Garden. 

A beautiful, accessible space with lovely planting: the Urban Pollinator garden concentrates on plants which encourage visiting pollinators, especially bees.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Roberto Burle Marx: a visionary landscape architect and plantsman

These pictures of lush tropical planting in bold compositions come from the exhibition currently showing at the New York Botanical Garden, celebrating the work of Roberto Burle Marx. I was lucky enough to visit the exhibition on my recent trip to  New York.


Flowing undulating shapes and swathes of colour characterise a Burle Marx garden, and in the mid-20th century this was a new look, contrasting with the formal geometric, straight-edged shapes that had been used in public and private spaces previously.
Burle Marx was an artist and landscape architect who had a massive impact on landscape design in the 20th century. Born in Brazil, he practised mainly in south America and the US: his seafront landscaping at Copacabana Beach and in Miami are internationally renowned.


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Part of Burle Marx's large-scale landscaping at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro (Image available via Creative Commons licence.)
He was also a plantsman, travelling extensively in Brazil and south America to find and conserve rare and threatened plants, His concern for the preservation of the environment was some years ahead of his time and he was instrumental in the slowing down of the desecration of the Amazon rainforest.


Burle Marx popularised the use of bromeliads in landscape design; they were some of the many plants he found during his plant hunting excursions off the beaten track in south America.
The exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden includes both his art and his landscape designs, complete with a garden created especially for the event by Miami-based garden designer Raymond Jungles, which wonderfully evokes the spirit of Burle Marx and his love of bold planting design and architectural tropical plants.

Many of Burle Marx's best known works were in public urban spaces, but he also designed private residential gardens, with his signature single-colour beds, sculpture and geometrically designed groundwork.

Many of Burle Marx's artworks were broadly abstract but he would also create astonishingly detailed sketches for his planting designs.

This tapestry demonstrates Burle Marx's love of bold colour and shapes which are also found in his landscape designs. He was at home in many media, designing jewellery, fabrics and stage sets, as well as creating landscapes.
The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx exhibition is at the New York Botanical Garden until Sunday September 29th. Tickets around $23.00 with concessions available.