A fine specimen in a long line of great American roadside attractions, the Tree Circus is a curious orchard that included a birdcage, ladder, spirals, a telephone booth, and a staircase, all fashioned from the pliable branches of birch, ash, elms, and weeping willows. Started in the 1950s in California, the Tree Circus is a neat botanical version in a long history of wacky Californian attractions, including tar pits, dinosaur parks, and the mystery spot.
In the late 1500s, the illustrator Johann Theodor de Bry produced a rare series of six still-life floral prints, titled Polyptoton de Flores (The Variance of Flowers). The captions are scripted in Latin hexameter, and derive their lessons from various phases of a plant's life cycle.
While botanic fashion has yet to see urban streets and Bill Cunningham's lens, the concept has been flourishing on the runway and the artist's studio. Here are three designers who have culled their materials from the plants that inspire them.
When he began documenting plant specimens, Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932) did not consider himself a photographer, nor an expert in the natural world. The German sculpture instructor was compiling a teaching tool: a survey of natural forms that would serve as inspiration and reference for his students.
Edward Gorey's The Evil Garden (Pomegranate, March 2011) is a cautionary tale for botanic enthusiasts everywhere: Beckoned by the delights of a lush, enticing garden, a family traipses through nature's alluring gate toward the promise of a flowering sanctuary. But any notions of floral delights are replaced with grave encounters when the plants turn bad.
Andromeda polifolia, or bog rosemary, got its name from Greek mythology, and was named by the Father of Taxonomy, Carl Linnaeus.
His journals, with meticulous details, careful field sketches, and eloquent descriptions, read like botanic field guides, cultural ethnographies, and dream journals, all rolled up into one.
Since 1890, Harvard's glass flowers have fascinated both academics and the general public. Made in Dresden, Germany, these full-size specimens are meticulously detailed, existing as both scientifically accurate models and unusual pieces of art.
It takes a village to grow a picture in a rice field: Since 1993, a small Japanese village has been creating rice paddy art, in an effort to increase tourism. It's a hybrid of traditional illustration and crop circles, with canvases that are as large as football fields.
Inspired by the natural world, artist Sasha Prood has illustrated an alphabet by drawing plants that naturally fall into the shapes of the letters. Garden Design interviews Prood about her work and her plant muses.