Monday, August 31, 2009

Columbus Day-Trip, Part 2

Chihuly at Franklin Park Conservatory

A feast for the eyes and joy for the heart, Chihuly makes my soul dance.
(And I'm not given to schmaltz and suchlike statements!)

I've always loved glass art and I've been a fan of Chihuly for many years now. I never get tired of the forms and could watch those fascinating videos of the pieces being made all day. My friend Amy and I enjoyed a recent visit to Franklin Park (FP) Conservatory in Columbus to view Chihuly Reimagined. I'd visited FP two years ago with my other friend Amy for another Chihuly exhibit, but this one used different pieces entirely and I was as enthralled now as I was then. You never know what's around the corner.

FP is a pretty cool place all the time, even without Chihuly artwork. I love subtle colors and wonderful textures of these small succulents. Noogie!

The plants are mostly indoors under glass, but there are also outdoor gardens.

With colorful blooms...

Nice vistas...

And of course a wonderful view at the conservatory itself.

There are also courtyards, one of which had my favorite Chihuly installation, Blue Reeds and Marlins.

I personally find this wonderful form more penguin than marlin, but what do I know?

And I'd call the non-reed pieces here herons if left to my own devices, but... whatever name, I adored the interplay of color and form with the glass and logs. I walked around the installation a few times and saw something new with each step.

Alas, these blue forms inside the conservatory were indeed called blue herons and I find them just as impressive as their namesakes.

FP also has a wonderful butterfly garden...

...and it was easy, even for the non-steady-handed, to photograph many beauties.

I love the unfurled fern combined with the flower and butterfly. It proves there's always natural art in a garden!

The wonderful texture and shape of this palm trunk are nature's artwork.

As is this colorful tropical combination.

I always find tropicals fascinating; bright and with non-symmetrical shapes.

Speaking of which, this sunset tower manged to both stand out of and blend into its surroundings.

I love all its component forms and would love being on the team that travels around the world to install the pieces. Seriously.

The wall of Persians was astounding. I love the shapes and color and form...

...and the way each piece is different but similar...

...and how you see something new in every angle. These overlaps reminded me of Venn diagrams from waaaaay back in high school math class.

I love the curly-cue tops of these vibrant red pieces.

And check out how beautifully this chandelier matches the shapes of the yuccas and palms... it's almost like Chihuly grew up with a mother who gardened! (He did, actually.)

This Ikebana piece seems to be reaching toward the sunlight, wishing to be as tall as the surrounding palms (I know how it feels).

I love how these purple reeds fit in perfectly with the foliage, even though their shape and color are contrasting.

I love how he color of this torchier matches the goldfish and how its shape is reflected in ripples in the pond.

I loved these multicolor macchia bowls (also shown in the first photo) and found it a real shame that I could conjure up no workable way to hide them in my purse and sneak them out of the garden not enjoy these wonderful pieces in my own garden.

The most unexpected pieces were hidden in a dark section of the tropical room... you felt like you were walking through a dark cave and when you looked up, HELLO!, this wonderful back-lit display of garden glass. Stunning and breathtaking.

Having seen a similar installation at the Kalamazoo Art Institute some three years earlier, I should have been prepared, but I wasn't. I was just as awestruck as the first time. And there wasn't just one, there were two!

Believe it or not, there were a lot more Chihuly pieces than I'm showing here and (as it turns out while scouring the brochure for piece names) more pieces than we even saw, in parts of FP I didn't know existed!

I hope you enjoyed your little tour, and my AHS reciprocal membership (that gets me into member gardens for free) is really paying for itself this year! (If you have a membership at a garden, click the link to see the list of gardens where you can get in free.)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Columbus Day-Trip, Part 1

The blogging machine is chugging right along! On August 17 my friend Amy (not to be confused with my other friend Amy) and I took a day trip to Columbus, Ohio. We swung by Franklin Park Conservatory (which I'll cover in the next post), plus the Columbus Topiary Park, the grounds at Ohio State University (OSU), an unexpected garden in Schiller Park, and the Whetstone Rose Garden.

I'll admit I'm not big into topiary for the same reason I'm not big into bonsai — I prefer plants in their natural form. However, the Columbus Topiary Park changed my mind! On the grounds of the old School for the Deaf, this public park covers seven acres near downtown.

The garden recreates Georges Seurat's painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte. I've seen the painting a few times at the Art Institute of Chicago (waves to Chicago-area blogging friends!), and it's impressive! The colors are very vibrant and it's huge, about 7 by 10 feet (and took him two years to complete)!

"If an artist can paint a picture of a landscape — art mimicking nature — then why not a sculptor creating a landscape of a work of art — nature mimicking art?" — James T. Mason, sculptor and creator

Mason constructed the bronze frames and planted the shrubs, and his then-wife Elaine was the first topiarist. Today the park is maintained by Columbus Recreation and Parks and by the Friends of the Topiary Park.

There are topiary figures of 54 people, eight boats, three dogs, a monkey, and a cat. They are made of yew (some still has to fill in, as you can see).

The pond (which represents the river Seine) is very cool, figuratively and literally as this doggie demonstrates on the sweltering day we visited.

The sails of the boats will fill in with clematis.

Next we swung downtown to see the capitol building (which oddly has no dome; if I were a normal Ann Arborite, I'd now be making disparaging jokes about the intelligence of our southern neighbors, but I think it's fair to say I'm not normal!) and made a quick trip through German Village, which has very nice brick buildings and an overall quaint feel. I'd been there a few years ago on a home and garden tour.

I wanted to swing by Schiller Park as a way to start heading north on High Street, when, almost out of nowhere, this gorgeous garden pops up! (You can barely see Schiller's statue at the top center of the photo, or at least the white pedestal on which it stands. Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet and playwright working in the last 1700s, probably best known for his poem Ode to Joy, which became the basis for the fourth movement of Beethoven's ninth symphony, which you've heard even if you didn't know what it was!)

Even though it was very, very hot that day, lots of people were walking through this public park, and why not? it's truly a treasure for the city. It's maintained by the German Village Society.

I love the pink flowers of kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos gabrielae).

They had a lovely color of flowering maple, which I first learned about this spring over at Dirt Therapy.

Aren't the flowers gorgeous?

I also loved this interesting flower, statice (Lemonium dumosum). It has the bushy look of baby's breath, but the branches seemed stiffer and almost woody, somewhat reminiscent of heather. I'd heard of statice, but never seen it. (Many thanks to Bert Stevens for IDing this, the kanagroo paw, and a few others I didn't show in the post!)

In addition to the long flower bed and statue, Schiller Park also had really cool sayings engraved in stones on the walkway, in German and English.

And of course it had plenty of benches!

Next we headed to see the official gardens at Ohio State University. The Learning Gardens contained these amazing trial gardens, which were quite colorful and inviting. I thought they looked like a wonderful quilt laid out in front of the buildings.

There was also a small bamboo garden, tucked into a concrete corner that I would have missed altogether if it weren't for Amy's eagle eyes. I was amazed at this tiny bamboo, only a few inches tall. Normally they get well over 10 feet!

I really liked this planter; the colors matched the surroundings perfectly.

At Lane Avenue Gardens, there was a cool labyrinth, which doesn't look like much at first glance, but it takes quite a bit of time to walk from start to finish and I think it would be quite relaxing for stressed out students.

I admit I was a little disappointed with the Chadwick Arboretum, however, which I don't feel reflects the fact that OSU has a world-class horticulture program and it's the state's land grant college. The trees were not labeled, there was no clear path through the trees, and the turf was long. Its "prairie" was anything but. At first I thought I was trespassing on research grounds (the first time I was at the arb a few years back, I didn't think I was even in the right place), but it was indeed the public arboretum.

Heading north on High Street, we visited the Park of Roses in Whetstone Park. It's no secret I'm far from being a rose aficionado, but this garden impressed even me. There was even a separate garden of "earth-friendly" (low-maintenance, low-chemical care) roses, interspersed with interesting evergreens, which was a really cool planting style.

I loved this delicate pink hybrid tea rose, 'Audrey Hepburn' (even though Kate is still my favorite Hepburn!).

Even though yellow roses are the least hardy (thanks to local expert Nancy Lindley, I'm not a complete rose cretin!), I love the color of grandiflora rose 'Gold Medal.'

Check back Monday for more. Chihuly fans won't be disappointed!