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.
As you stroll along a prosaic gravel path in Sydney Baumgartner’s split-level garden, you spy a patch of grass through an opening in a solid green slab of hedge and think: garden-variety lawn. Then you step through the “doorway,” and a spectacular wide-angle vignette stops you in your tracks. What had looked like a postage stamp of turf suddenly unfolds to become an enormous oval carpet, punctuated by romantically gnarled apple trees and ringed by masses of plants.