Glass In Gardens?

 Further thoughts on the art glass pieces at Sherman Gardens.  

Glass art in gardens has become A Thing;  Chihuly seems to have started it.  From the Botanical Garden's point of view:  it brings in visitors who might not otherwise visit.  I get that.

Chihuly in Phoenix, 2015.  The yellow in the glass echoed by the yellow flowers;  the shape of the Yuccas echoed in the shape of the glass pieces:
  At Sherman Gardens, when we came around the corner of a path, the yellow-orange-red arrangement, backlit by sun, stunned the eyes.  What became clear is that the bright glass plays better against dark green foliage than competing with nearby flower colors. 
Light is magic coming through leaves, too:
 These pink pieces looked good, surrounded by annual color plants in the pink/purple range, and a whole lot of greens:
 I would have been tempted to try them with Leucadendrons like this.  Too wild?
   The most successful placement of color we saw was glass in a lavender, pale pink, chartreuse color range with a red-purple Dahlia and a red-purple spike flower (could not identify it).  It doesn't come across in the photos as well as it did in person, but the range of berry colors--purple, purple-blue, maroon, looked--delicious.  The glass didn't overwhelm the plants.   There is some white(?) pigment in these glass pieces, muting the glass color, letting the richness of the Dahlias take precedence. 

The bright tutti-fruity mix of massed dahlias agrees pretty well with the mix of glass colors here.  Seeing the scene from afar with plenty of green around it also helped.  
Glass and Dahlias aside, how about that Caryota obtusa?  
 In the succulent garden, this chartreuse globe worked with the yellow/green range of plants. There's a visual relationship of sorts.  The glass is a focal point but not a distraction. 
 This, not quite as good. 
Placement of art glass in a garden can work.  Time of day and the quality of the light will affect the color of the glass and the combinations that didn't work at the time I took the photos, might be alluring at different times, in different lighting conditions.  Night time lighting effects can be dramatic and could be very striking in a home garden.

It seemed nestling intensely colored glass amidst green shrubbery, or using more muted glass colors among flowers are the best chance of success.  Competing with flower color or strongly colored foliage must be paired with caution.  

What do you think? 

Comments

  1. I'd be really interested in getting your opinion on the Chihuly Garden here in Seattle, have you ever visited it? There's a LOT of pairing of glass color with flower and leaf color there, and there's an overwhelming amount of glass in every shape, but the quality of our light, even in summer, is probably quite different from California or Arizona. Personally, I loved it, but looking at your photos I agree with everything you say. Glass in gardens is overly popular here, some people consider it to be like an overused perennial now.

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    1. Have you blogged the Chihuly garden? Seems like someone has. I like glass in the garden. I like garden art but there is so much of it that is bad. When I see something that looks right its a shock.

      I was surprised at how different the light was in Portland when attending the Portland fling, taking photos was very different. The light is bluer and not so intense as here at home.

      "Like an overused perennial" , ha, ha!

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    2. I did write a blog post about it. It's here: http://bonneylassie.blogspot.com/2012/07/three-days-in-seattle-chihuly-garden.html

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    3. thought so, that was my discreet(?) way of asking! thanks for the link.

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  2. Polarising opinions out there when it comes to glass in the garden. Agree with you on your points. I do find that those likely to dislike them are plantspeople while casual garden visitors tend to like or not mind them.

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    1. Difficult to get any garden art just right. The ones that complement the plants in some way, or are witty or fun, like Dustin's grey concrete gnomes, or Outlaw's googly eyes, are the ones I like.

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  3. From what I have seen pairing glass art with flowers can be totally stunning or be a complete miss. I think your photos demonstrate both sides! I love, love, love, the dark burgundy dahlias with the lavender, purple and white toned glass objects, but I also distinctly dislike some of the other combinations. It is an art to get the combinations right and not everyone might be up to the challenge.
    Being a small garden owner though, I know the value of bringing permanent color into the garden when the flowering plants are resting and the garden looks kind of dull and boring without any color punches. I would give glass objects a try, if they don't cost a fortune and see if I could get them to work in my space.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. The glass with the light shining through it was wonderful, though further thought leads me to say that light shining on Pittosporum or Phormium leaves can be just as magic.

      I agree, a spash of constant color like a glazed urn or glass piece can brighten a space. When all my roses are cut back in January, the place looks a little bare!

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  4. I think Sherman Gardens did a much better job with the glass pieces than my local botanic garden did with their exhibit last year - there it was superfluous but I felt the Sherman folks at least made a concerted effort to think about their pairings. Like you, I thought some of the pairings were better than others. On the other hand, I thought there were just too many of them - in my view, a lighter touch with the glass would have been more effective.

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    1. Too many? I guess they had to have a sufficient number for the visitors who were there to see the glass not the plants. I went back and added the photo of the pink goosenecks in the little pond. Looking through my photos, those pink pieces would have been fabulous nestled amidst the red/pink Leucadendrons right around the corner.

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  5. This appears to be a very well designed pairing, but many times the glass can be much too distracting. Better than the holiday lights though.

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    1. Not a holiday light fan?!? Awww... Like the glass, some are more tasteful than others...I think at the Phoenix BG they do luminarias, it makes a pleasing effect without gaudiness.

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  6. For me, the Phoenix image is the only case in which the glass pieces really make the picture. In the rest they're just decoration -- some that works well (like the lavender with purple dahlias) and some that works less well.

    Chihuly's been at the garden-adorning business a while; I went to a wedding in the Franklin Conservatory in Columbus OH in 1999 where his pieces were displayed among the plants. I had the same reaction then. Most just functioned as decoration, some verging on kitschy; only a few of the pieces really worked with their surrounding plants to make something bigger and more memorable. But those few really did deliver the goods...

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    1. Sort of like Hollywood movies: a lot of misses, a few gems. I agree the Phoenix work there fires on all cylinders: the colors, the shape, the placement, the surrounding plants.

      '99, that long? Did not know that.

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    2. Possibly it was 2000, but not later.

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    3. Those pink Leucadendrons are luscious. A wonderful placement would be to have those pink glass pieces in the deep green setting, but then round a corner to these Leuc's as an after-echo. As in the post itself, it would be great for a smile at least.

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    4. After-echo, that's a good idea!

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  7. Good morning Hoover Boo,
    To have glasart in the garden never came up in my mind but I have to admit that I like it .
    Would be great too in wintertime when everything in the garden overhere is brown and colorless.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Marijke

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    1. To me the photos of gardens in autumn or winter in colder climates, with the frost on everything, are quite magical. The frost, though, is very ephemeral. A little bright glass color in a brown garden on a gloomy grey day would be cheering.

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  8. My opinion on glass "art" in the garden is no. Just no. No no no. The only time I've found it to add, rather than detract, is in your first example. I'm not fan of Chihuly, quite the opposite actually, but that entrance piece at the DBG is magicpure magic. Still takes my breath away every time it see it.

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    1. C. does not have the reputation of being the nicest guy in the world, does he. Plant people are the kindest ones!

      Good to look at things anyway, and analyze to see why they don't work or in the case of the entrance pieces at PBG, why they do. The Yucca-green color at the base of the PBG pieces seems essential to how well those work. All yellow they would be too bright and alienated from the plants around them.

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  9. I agree with Loree and Nell. Maybe some glass art inspired by agave bloom stalks for the desert garden or sarracenia pitchers for the bog garden, where it makes you look closer at the plants and doesn't try to out-compete them in design -- because it's just not possible!

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    1. Yes, Sarracenia-like shapes for a bog garden would be very cool. And yes, out-competing the perfection of plants is just not possible.

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  10. Glass in gardens seems very PNW to me, although I've seen it used all across the country, sometimes looks good and sometimes is distracting.I think it has to have some relevancy to the scene in which it resides , not just a color echo. I think DGB pulled this off splendidly with the glass yucca shapes. Glass would look very wrong in my garden, though I do love glass spheres floating in water and plan on doing something of the sort one day.

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    1. The softer light of the PNW might be better for them. California light at least in summer can be too intense.

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  11. Like anything, it's all in the execution and the context. I've seen glass used to dramatic effect in gardens large and small but I'm not likely to invite it into mine.

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    1. I don't care for the glass art at all...it is static and distracting in a garden when what I want to see is movement and growth...I don't even "get" gazing balls. I've tried, but when I gaze into them nothing comes out. I understand some people find beauty in the light play of the glass, but does it draw butterflies and bees? Does it have a fragrance or a seed? When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden...without glass.

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    2. Yeah, never quite "got" gazing balls, tho I'm sure as Ricki said it's all in the execution and context. I find plants that attract birds and butterflies add an amazing and indispensable dimension to a garden, though there's room for an inanimate object or two as well...bird bath, for example.

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  12. I like the glass, it reminds me of the glassblowers at Sawdust. Maybe the glass at Sherman is from local artisans. My gram used to always have a gazing ball and my great-gram had chunks of colored glass (maybe from my great-grandpa's work at Bausch + Lomb), so I inherited their sense of fun/kitch in the garden.
    I also love the fishtail. Have you seen the one on Arroyo? I love to catch a glimpse of it while driving by, very slowly... :)

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    1. The Sherman glass is from some artists up in the Santa Cruz area, so fairly local. Lotusland has an area of glass chunks, its distinctive. Despite Lotusland being a grand garden, it does have some whimsy.

      I know I've seen the fishtail, but not exactly where...Now I'll be looking for it when I run my next errand. I go by the Arroyo School during the summer when school is out but avoid the area during the school year.

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    2. Look north of Foothill on the (north)west side of the street. It's about 3 houses up, next door to the 'bull skull with lights in the eye-sockets garage', speaking of whimsy. I haven't been to Lotusland, def on the garden bucket list.
      FYI, school starts a week earlier this year.

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    3. Oh yes I know that house. They have lots of cycads, palms, Dypsis, Bismarkia, and couple of Pandanus, even.

      Lotusland makes a nice short holiday, add Seaside Gardens, some Orchid places, the SBBG, then stop at Australian Plants in Ventura on the way home. If you buy a Lotusland membership you get better access, and it doesn't cost much more than visiting.

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  13. the swirly chartreuse ball, geometry against geometry, where the colours don't fight - that works for me. I love glass art, but it seems tricky to make it look right in a garden.

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    1. I think that swirly ball works well also. Glass out of the garden (in the house) seems easier to integrate into its surroundings.

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