Reford Gardens Part II
Reford Gardens hosts an International Garden Festival, consisting of show gardens put together by artists and design teams from around the world. As the website says, the Festival is a “forum for innovation and experimentation.” The 2015 festival had 28 gardens that were on display from June through September.
Innovation and experimentation are good things, I get that. However, I’m generally not a big fan of this sort of garden display. In fact, a wrote a snarky post about the one in Chaumont, France, which Judy and I visited in 2013.
Part of the problem for me is that these display gardens are usually conceptual, and I have a difficult time absorbing concepts when they come in concentrated doses. It is much easier to appreciate a single conceptual display garden set in a more conventional landscape. But 28 such gardens all at one go, for me at least, is hard on the eyeballs.
Actually, Judy and I were able to experience only about half the gardens before brain freeze began to set in. It’s kind of like my Five Paintings and Out rule for art museums.
Even so, I should acknowledge that there are people much smarter than I, including some good friends, who have entirely different feelings about International Garden Festivals. Also, Judy says that I am a philistine. So I will try my best to keep my boorish tendencies in check while writing this post.
So anyhow, here we are at the entrance to the Reford Gardens International Garden Festival.
We are told that this garden with the chain link fence is a “contemporary interpretation of the traditional Persian garden”. I don’t get it, and I don’t like it.
Classical garden elements are replaced with modern: a chain link enclosure instead of a wall or hedge, blue gravel instead of water, plastic pink flamingos instead of songbirds, Tikki torches instead of – something. One thing about the modern substitutes: they’re mostly ugly. Or are they supposed to be funny? Some people think plastic flamingos are always good for a laugh, but whatever.
JUDY’S COMMENT: I liked this one a lot. The space was divided into four sections like a traditional garden, but the paths were all askew both horizontally and vertically in an intriguing way, and pink flamingos ALWAYS make me laugh.
Now this one I like, though I wish I had a better picture. It’s called “Tiny Taxonomy”, and elevates small plants of the forest floor closer to eye level. It’s a reminder of the importance and quiet beauty of the less flashy woodland plants. Nice, though the containers remind me of the kind of ashtrays you find outside of airports.
JUDY’S COMMENT: I see the concept, but honestly: airport ashtrays.
This garden consists of five parallel walls made of cut logs. The point that the designers are making is that wood rots over time. OK, duly noted.
JUDY’S COMMENT: Better in person.
This one is supposed to reference children’s games with plastic ropes. It’s meant to be playful, apparently, but left me unmoved.
JUDY’S COMMENT: I used to play those children’s games, but not sure that was enough to make me like this piece.
Here blue Globe Thistle are surrounded by white Queen Anne’s Lace, all growing through a filter of white cords. This one makes me think of how hard plants will work to reach the sun. I like it.
Let’s give our brains a rest now, and look at the pretty flowers growing alongside the row of display gardens.
This one was probably my favorite. Don’t ask me why. I just like how it draws the eye to the view of the water in the distance.
A closer look.
JUDY’S COMMENT: I like this one even more in the photos than in person. I had to wait a long time for people to get out of the way so I could take the photo. It was worth it. Here you get both the sense of looking out into the distance at the water, and the sense that you are somehow looking deep into the pupil of someone’s (your own?) eye – looking in and out simultaneously.
I’m sorry, but no. No, no, no. Do not make your container garden out of upside down traffic cones. Also, this probably looked worse than it had to because someone had not been keeping up with the watering.
JUDY’S COMMENT: Not much I can add here.
This is called “A Ditch With a View”. A fine example of truth in labeling.
JUDY’S COMMENT: I actually really liked this one.
According to the guide, “this installation introduces ordered man-made elements into the cultivated natural environment …”
OK, but how is this a garden? Though I admit the streamers made of barrier tape look cool blowing in the wind.
JUDY’S COMMENT: Much more interesting in person, with wind blowing the ribbons, which made soft noises as they fluttered, and with the horizontal ribbons marking out paths.
So there you have it: my take on the Reford Gardens’ International Garden Festival. Call me a philistine, go ahead.
JUDY’S COMMENT: I do, regularly.