Perceived as exotic and difficult to grow, prized for their unique textures and taste, mushrooms are something of an orchid and an oyster. Edible fungi are beloved by gourmands, and many varieties grow within reach of a foraging basket, if you know where to look.
Four years ago, Steve Wheen began looking at potholes in his East London neighborhood a little differently. Naturally, they were a nuisance, but suddenly they also presented themselves as a vacant canvas in the urban monochrome. A pothole wants to be filled, but with what medium? He placed a few petunias in one pothole around the corner from his home. Blurring the distinction between protest and art, Wheen's little garden transformed the aesthetic of the neglected street, and drew attention to a community issue—in a charming way.
Xavier Dumont’s hand-sculpted furniture pieces twist with an organic elegance that looks like he willed the branches to weave themselves into loose shapes. Those natural forms wind up resembling a desk, easel, mirror frame, arbor, or bench.
British artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey use grass to make pictures—"living" photographs. Wielding the traditional tools of the artist and the gardener to harness a plant's natural photosynthesis, their process is a nice synthesis of art and science. Harvey describes their natural medium, saying, "The grass has a certain importance because of the simplicity of the blade.
Ten thousand daffodils bloom in the grass courtyard of Somerset House in London. While the flowers were installed to signal the beginning of spring, they are impervious to sun or rain—each daffodil is sculpted out of clay and metal. Chilean-born, London-based artist Fernando Casasempere developed the exhibit to explore the relationship between a reliable procession of the seasons, and the increasing fragility of nature.
While on assignment for the likes of House & Garden and National Geographic over the past 20 years, photographer Andrea Jones has been lucky enough to set foot in many of the world’s finest gardens.
Mosses are back. They were a fad in the late 19th century, when newly discovered plants were being carried across the globe, and Victorian gardeners and armchair horticulturalists enjoyed domestic dalliances by cultivating mosses in terrariums and mosseries. When the craze abated, though, mosses were more or less relegated to their natural terrain of forests and woodland landscapes.
I'm always drawn to objects in which the human and the natural elevate one another. The exquisite 19th-century Japanese panel paintings from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, now on display in a show curated by five London museums, tell a fascinating story about nature and culture.
In 2010, the artist collective London Fieldworks, founded by Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson, created a fantastic series of bird houses. The work of art, called "Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven," consisted of several hundred custom bird houses mounted in two trees of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) and were a reflection of the housing stock around the trees—a mix of public housing from the 1960s and Georgian town houses.