Undaunted Color In The Garden of Keeyla Meadows

One of the most exciting gardens we visited during the 2013 Garden Bloggers’ Fling was that of Berkeley artist and garden designer Keeyla Meadows. Keeyla is also the author of the book Fearless Color Gardens, in which she advocates “Jumping off the color wheel.” I’ve just started reading Keeyla’s inspiring book, but having seen her garden I can assure you that she puts into practice what she preaches.

Keeyla’s garden is stuffed full of color, art, flowers, foliage, and grasses – all flowing together so that the line between the artistic and the botanical becomes blurred.

Keeyla Meadows

I love how the flowers flow around the sculpture so that it seems this woman is bathing in nasturtiums.

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Brugmansia, bursting with life and immortalized through sculpture.

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The cool blue of this giant pear provides a cooling presence amidst the many hot colors.

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There is something stimulating even if you look straight down – watch out for snakes!

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A magnificent metal arch provides a transition between garden rooms.

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A very diverse palette of plants.

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I like how the water feature is built around enormous boulders.

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The Lychnis goes great with this grass, I think.

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No need to set the table, thanks to garden art!

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The colors of structures and flowers went together so well in this garden.

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A wide view of part of the garden taken from the roof of Keeyla’s house.

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Before leaving, we had to pay our respects at the shrine to the god of garden art – or perhaps static electricity.

For my own garden, I don’t think I could or would replicate the overall level of stimulation to be found here. However, Keeyla’s garden is certainly an inspiring one, suggesting many ways to build on intensity and excitement.

38 Comments on “Undaunted Color In The Garden of Keeyla Meadows”

  1. Hey Jason,
    She certainly practices the gospel of fearless color Chapters 1-20. It’s easy for midwesterners like us to discount West Coast design because of their more than generous plant palette. But if you review these images, it’s the art and background colors that set a stunning stage like the blue pear, metal arches and painted walls. With dynamic container selection housing tropical plants we could pull off the same effects as seen here. Nice post, my friend.

  2. Jason, I have Keeyla’s book and have read it. I think it is an example of how great photography makes something look more interesting than it really is. I think trying to pull off her garden ideas without any of her art will be self-defeating. I love the shower with the melted window, which other Fling bloggers I follow have pictured, not that having an outdoor shower is practical here in central WI! (Although I have often thought of turning the hose on Handsome Son after a stint at the farm!)

    Incorporating any of her ideas into the garden of anyone else would be difficult without her original funky pots or tile work. A talented hypertufa gardener might be able to bring to life some of her pieces or possibly a mosaic artist, but the rest of it needs a kiln, a lot of clay or welding tools and that skill set. I wish pieces like the metal brugmansia sculpture were actual available somewhere!

    Likewise, I agree the plant selection is really not what makes this garden. A lot of the plants she uses are considered annuals here. She’s not as unusual with her plant selections as in the use of colors. In her book, she has a lot of planted pots, and those combos are totally doable here. Again, it is finding the pot which sets them apart.

    And of course, just once I would like to have a garden where I’m not gardening on “the flat”. Having different grades makes gardens more interesting, too.

    • Since most of my pots are plastic or fiberglass from Lowe’s – or containers shrubs came in that I couldn’t throw away without feeling wasteful – there may not be much hope for me. I would like to have more garden art, though, although how can you top the concrete chicken?

  3. I have seen this garden featured by other bloggers that attended the Fling and one might think that the images might start to become repetitive, but just the contrary seems to be true. Everyone seems to have their own take on the same garden and have focused on different things. It is kind of interesting to see how different the same garden can be as seen through the eyes of many. I love the snake for instance and don’t recall seeing it before. Have a great weekend!

  4. Perhaps because we had more time at this garden and I sat for a while, I grew to appreciate it much more than my initial impression. I could no more pull something like this off than fly to the moon, but it was a fascinating lesson in color that Judy’s pictures help me appreciate anew.

  5. I visited Keeyla’s garden in 2010 during my annual internet garden friend get together (Idyllunion). Fabulous! Loved all the funky art and wild plays of color. Thought I might like one of her glazed pot creations until I got a look at the price tag :).

  6. Wow! Everything sure is packed in there, it’s hard to get a sense of the size of the garden. Looking at it I feel like I do when I’m inside one of those packed curio shops, stuff everywhere, some you have no interest in other stuff’s really cool. It’s worth going in and looking around regardless.

  7. “The line between the artistic and the botanical becomes blurred” … “A diverse palette of plants” … lovely prose to describe a fabulous garden! I tend to combine lots of unlikely color companions in my garden, too. I find it more interesting–especially in floral bouquets. But monotone garden “rooms” can be interesting, too. Anyway, this looks like a SF garden that I really would have enjoyed seeing! Dang.

  8. A very brave and lively garden, colourful personality too I suppose. I like the Brugmansia sculpture along with the shrub itself. As for the colour wheel: It’s important to know and understand it but I always encourage people in my workshops to be brave and do their own thing. No point in sticking to rules all the time.

  9. What fun! Thank you so much for sharing this. I love her wild sense of color and form and the sculptures are fabulous. Like others have said here, I don’t think I would want to live with that particular garden–too “noisy” for my psyche. And, as a transplanted Northwesterner, I need my big swaths of green to feel whole. But visiting such a garden–even by blog–is a real treat!

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