The folly was invented to build "new" ruins into 18th century English landscape gardens. Copies of Roman temples and tumbled castle walls brought romance of the ancient world into the modern one. This same idea can bring a sense of history or perhaps just a feel for the ancient to new landscapes as well.
A squash and a cucumber cast dark shadows on a sill. Above, a pomegranate and a cabbage are suspended by a string against a deep black background. A sense of tension builds—a slice has been cut from the melon, suggesting the recent presence of an absent actor; the exposed fruits are displayed like targets. Finally, a bullet blasts through the scene and the pomegranate explodes into hundreds of seeds and red flesh. The obliterated fruit, still hanging from a string like a public hanging, careens from the impact in slow motion.
In 17th century Europe, horticulturalists began opening their gardens to plants from around the world. Plant explorers were forging into new botanical territories—inlets in South American waterways, crevasses in China's mountains—and returning with roses and fruits, orchids and lilies. Exotic plants were traded, cultivated, and illustrated. Previously, botanic illustration was largely produced for medical texts and herbals.
If you don't live in Los Angeles—and even if you do—you're probably surprised when I tell you that I began writing about plants when I moved here. I know, you think, there are lots of palms, sure, but aren't so many of them neon? Yes, there's a bit of flourescent greenery, but the city's brightest colors are in the bougainvillea. Los Angeles may have been built with tinsel, concrete, silicone, and celluloid, but a world of plants grows in the spaces between.
Andrew Jackson's Southern Magnolia on the grounds of the White House.
Andrew Jackson's Southern Magnolias
This year, GARDEN DESIGN is once again an educational partner with Landslide, the Cultural Landscape Foundation's annual thematic compendium of threatened and at-risk landscape. Landslide started in 2003 and has spotlighted more than 150 at-risk parks, gardens, horticultural features, and working landscapes.
Instagram has certainly been in the news lately, having been acquired by Facebook for $1 billion. But before there was Instagram, there was the Claude glass—a small, tinted, convex mirror that was popular in the 18th century. Toted in artists' cases and tourists' pockets, the portable mirror offered a transformed view of the scenery. It was a picturesque filter for any landscape, reflecting a vista with pleasant distortion and a subtle color palette.
Jens Jensen's masterwork, the Garfield Park Conservatory, suffered hail damage in June 2011, but the disaster only served to make Chicagoans more aware of the landscape architect's legacy.
The ultimate garden revival project is underway at the site of an ancient palace in modern day–Jerusalem, where scientists are reconstructing what was in bloom in the kingdom of Biblical Judah. The gardens at Ramat Rachel, they say, were designed with a wealth of exotic plants and native fruit trees—the origins of a horticultural tradition in Israel.