Gardens as Art

Throughout history there have been several beautiful garden styles. However, my favorite by far is the Arts and Crafts style garden.

The Arts and Crafts style is appealing because it was inspired directly by art theory. Gertrude Jekyll, who is one of the main designers of the Arts and Crafts style, was inspired by impressionist art and the artist J.M.W. Turner. Throughout her career, Gertrude Jekyll designed about 400 different Arts and Crafts gardens. Below is an example of the types of layouts she designed.

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Her layouts are impressive because each plant was placed specifically due to its attributes. All of the plants were considered for their flowering time, foliage colors, flower colors, height, etc. The skill necessary to create a harmonious Arts and Crafts flower garden is incredible. Moreover, Jekyll’s understanding of plants and plant breeding was paramount to creating beautiful designs. Some people have even described Gertrude’s design style as reminiscent of a painter’s brushstrokes. Overall then, the Arts and Crafts garden appeals to me because of the skill and the beautiful color featured in this style.

In addition to promoting art, the Arts and Crafts design also returned to the use of natural materials. For instance, many of the gardens used stone or wood or brick for the garden features. Using natural materials was different from other garden designs, but it was also a way of including the work of crafts-people from the area. Some of the features of the gardens were: pergolas, trellises, pools, walkways, hedges, topiary, and orchards. This garden style also directly complemented the architecture of the time. In particular, many of the houses were also constructed with natural materials from the area. Fireplaces, built-in furnishings (like light fixtures or bookcases), and exposed beams were also common stylistic choices in the house.

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The gardens are also appealing, because although they are purposefully designed and maintained, when visitors walk down the paths it’s like walking past a prairie or wild meadow. However, each feature and flower is chosen for its characteristics and is specifically planted for its visual effect. Additionally, this garden style really promoted bushy and almost overgrown plants. Unlike other garden styles, it really embraced the color in nature and allowed the plants to fill out.

Looking at Arts and Crafts gardens is like walking through my grandmother’s garden and children’s books. They are incredibly beautiful and really utilized flowers in a way that other gardens before had not. In essence, Arts and Crafts gardens are the work of fairytales.

 

For more information about the history of the Arts and Crafts movement, check out this website: http://www.gardenvisit.com/history_theory/library_online_ebooks/tom_turner_english_garden_design/nineteenth_and_twentith_century

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