GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2007 show44
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Show #44/1005
Blending Art and Horticulture


The Victorian Garden Parlor
THE VICTORIAN GARDEN PARLOR IS A GOOD PLACE TO START THE TOUR because it has a lot of significance. The sculptures here mark the start of the Victorian age. They have in this collection some of the greatest masters in history, for example they have a Rodin and a Degas. It's a good marriage with horticulture and important because the really successful collection of botanical specimens began in the Victorian era. At that time Queen Victoria would send out explorations that went to the tropics and all the remote islands and would bring back plants that were for the most part pressed or dried. How effective was that? But that era marked some new discoveries and one was the Wardian Case. The Wardian Case is simply what we know today as a terrarium. But it allowed them to enclose in glass unique specimen plants and carry them all the way from the tropics or from whatever island, to Great Britain and France, then Germany and others.

Click here for more info

Carnivorous Plant House
WE NEXT VISIT THE CARNIVOROUS PLANT HOUSE. Rob is told it's one of the finest in the country. In this area the conditions change, it's cooler and above we notice window shades and hear water. The effect is subliminal but tells one they're in a special place. This area is particularly of interest to children. When you tell kids that a plant has the ability to move, it gets their attention. To learn that plants have evolved and developed characteristics that allow them to attract food is also interesting. These plants attract food with sticky residue or in the case of the Venus Fly Trap, with horns almost like eyelashes. They can hang on to a critter like a gnat or fly and capture food. By triggering the little hairs the trap closes and captures whatever is inside. That interests kids.

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Tropical Conservatory
ROB THINKS THE TROPICAL CONSERVATORY IS THEIR MASTERPIECE. There are a lot of wonderful conservatories around the U.S. but what makes this unique is that it is in Michigan. When one looks through the windows and there is 18 inches of snow piled up, a blizzard going on and it's 72 degrees inside it's truly special. It's even neater when they gear up for their Butterfly Exhibit and butterflies flutter by. They have plants in here especially for butterflies. There is Penta, which is a good pollinator, a good plant to attract butterflies.

Click here for more info

Outside Sculpture and Gardens
INSIDE WAS GREAT, WE NOW GO OUTSIDE. One of Rob's favorites is a sculpture called the Beast. The sculpture staff in describing the artwork said imagine a nasty critter. So, how do you compliment a piece of artwork like that? Rob didn't go with anything traditional, they went with nasty Barberries. Barberries with thorns help promote the theme and create a subliminal message that if you lean too close, you get poked. Another piece that exemplifies the marriage between horticulture and sculpture is a piece called Cabin Creek. Cabin Creek looks like a collection of driftwood, assembled into a horse. It too needed its own space. What they were looking for was a southwestern feel, a range, maybe a Wyoming type feel, an area where the range grasses are growing and there's nothing pretty, nothing like a lawn or flowers. So they used tall grasses around the sculpture. Speaking of horses, probably the one they're most famous for is what they call The American Horse. It's obviously inspired by the da Vinci horse. It's 25 feet tall, a massive bronze sculpture.

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Farm Garden
SO HIS FRIENDS WORKED WITH FRED AND RECREATED A FARM GARDEN. They decided to build a replica of the farm Lena grew up on, right down to the paint color of the house. This is the last era in American history where a family was self sufficient. The farm took care of their needs, everything from food to wool to firewood, even their sugar source, which was either honey or maple syrup. In the heirloom garden they have selected heirloom seeds. Jan is planting some heirloom tomatoes - Mortgage Lifter, Mr. Stripey, Yellow Pear, Isis Candy, Cherry, these are all great, flavorful tomatoes. They originate from an era where flavor was still valued.

Click here for more info

Children's Garden
CHILDREN ARE IMPORTANT TO LENA AND THE IMPETUS TO CREATE THE CHILDREN'S GARDEN. Children when given the opportunity to touch, smell, taste and to hear elements in the garden, remember the experience. It becomes meaningful. The texture garden provides an opportunity to touch the texture of a vine, or fescue and see how they contrast with the coarse texture of the bark of the Paperbark Maple, or the broad leaf effect of the Chinese Rhubarb. They have a neat plant called Pigs Feet. When kids rub it it squeaks, it sounds like a pig. On of Rob's favorites is Fritillaria, also called Crown Imperial. It comes up the same time as tulips but comes up bigger and bolder and holds its color longer. It's a great plant.

Click here for more info

 


LINKS:

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park



Complete transcript of the show.


Garden Smart Visits Grand Rapids, Michigan and the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. What makes this park unique is the way they mix art and horticulture. One of the latest trends in landscape design is to introduce art into the garden. The principles of balance, proportion, scale and symmetry are key elements to making a landscape plan look great. Art and horticulture do work great together to enhance the landscape. Many of the techniques they have utilized here can be incorporated into our own landscapes.
Brent Dennis, the Executive Director of the Gardens, introduces us to Meijer Gardens. The Lena Meijer Conservatory is the landmark facility. It is the largest tropical conservatory in the state of Michigan and houses a lot of very beautiful and special exhibitions throughout the course of the year. They're probably best known for their Butterfly Exhibit, the largest in the nation, that welcomes 150,000 or so visitors during its 8 week run which occurs in the spring. The Gardens are starting their second 10 years, the first 10 years saw a lot of rapid growth. This facility sits on 125 acres and has many outstanding gardens. Brent attributes much of what's happened here to its namesake, Fred Meijer and his wife Lena. They have been not only visionary but also quite generous in helping in a leadership way to create everything that's happened here. Fred's passion is sculpture and Brent feels they have one of the most outstanding contemporary sculpture collections in the midwest, if not the nation. On the other side of the marriage, Lena loves gardening and, in particular, loves kids. Thus it's appropriate the conservatory is named after her, as is The Lena Meijer's Children's Garden which is a great combination of fun and a learning landscape. Brent invites all in the audience to visit, he's confident that you'll leave not only impressed, but will additionally have some great memories and hopefully be a bit more inspired to enjoy the wonders of gardening.
Rob McCartney is the Director of Horticulture. Rob came from Ohio and has a Masters degree in landscape horticulture from Ohio State University. Previously he was working for Sea World of Ohio where the focus was developing picturesque, interactive gardens that people could relate to. He knew that his next job needed to be dynamic and what he found here was a harmonious blend between an art museum and a botanical garden and all the beautiful dynamics that are created with that. Rob likens these Gardens to a 3 legged stool, with three major disciplines - sculpture, horticulture and education. Horticulture may have their idea about how something should look, sculpture has their ideas about how to present the sculpture but when the education department comes in and says - now to help people better understand this, or if we do this, or create this type of learning guide or class that focuses around this; people will then appreciate the horticulture and art much more. At that point it all comes together.
Typical of Meijer Gardens is the work of art by the German sculpture, Deitrich Klinge. He's influenced by the earth, trees and wood. His sculptures are usually wood although this piece is bronze. What inspired him in this situation was how bulbs rip up through the black earth, emerge on the top and sprawl out with petals and flowers. That's what he recreated in this work. Normally one would see sculptures like this on a pedestal or marble stand but Klinge said - put it right onto the lawn. That's something of a horticultural challenge, but it's worth it, because the natural surrounding compliments, even accents the piece.
THE VICTORIAN GARDEN PARLOR IS A GOOD PLACE TO START THE TOUR because it has a lot of significance. The sculptures here mark the start of the Victorian age. They have in this collection some of the greatest masters in history, for example they have a Rodin and a Degas. It's a good marriage with horticulture and important because the really successful collection of botanical specimens began in the Victorian era. At that time Queen Victoria would send out explorations that went to the tropics and all the remote islands and would bring back plants that were for the most part pressed or dried. How effective was that? But that era marked some new discoveries and one was the Wardian Case. The Wardian Case is simply what we know today as a terrarium. But it allowed them to enclose in glass unique specimen plants and carry them all the way from the tropics or from whatever island, to Great Britain and France, then Germany and others. For example in this room is a banana tree, giant tree ferns, figs and citrus fruits, palms and a unique plant called Pelican Flower. The Pelican Flower has a strong Victorian resemblance, in color and pattern. They used it in decorating, in pattern making. It marked a new era in how homes could be decorated and how collections of botanical specimens could be assembled.
Top


WE NEXT VISIT THE CARNIVOROUS PLANT HOUSE. Rob is told it's one of the finest in the country. In this area the conditions change, it's cooler and above we notice window shades and hear water. The effect is subliminal but tells one they're in a special place. This area is particularly of interest to children. When you tell kids that a plant has the ability to move, it gets their attention. To learn that plants have evolved and developed characteristics that allow them to attract food is also interesting. These plants attract food with sticky residue or in the case of the Venus Fly Trap, with horns almost like eyelashes. They can hang on to a critter like a gnat or fly and capture food. By triggering the little hairs the trap closes and captures whatever is inside. That interests kids. This can often be a start for kids who've never been fascinated with plants. But when they learn that in this room 100% of the plants are carnivorous, they're meat eaters, they like it, they listen, they look a little closer. Another mechanism that plants have developed in order to catch their prey is a pitfall trap. The Pitcher plants are an example. These plants are found from Canada to Florida and use a sticky residue that smells and tastes like honey around the rim. That attracts certain flies and bugs, even cockroaches, they come to the top, are enticed to move closer, then tumble down into it. Once inside they become bug soup.
Top


ROB THINKS THE TROPICAL CONSERVATORY IS THEIR MASTERPIECE. There are a lot of wonderful conservatories around the U.S. but what makes this unique is that it is in Michigan. When one looks through the windows and there is 18 inches of snow piled up, a blizzard going on and it's 72 degrees inside it's truly special. It's even neater when they gear up for their Butterfly Exhibit and butterflies flutter by. They have plants in here especially for butterflies. There is Penta, which is a good pollinator, a good plant to attract butterflies. Butterflies love the pollen. Here again if you look closely you'll see sculptures, they're subtle, inconspicuous, whether it's turtles on a log , a baboon family or even a frog leaping out from the path. It's a nice effect and adds an element of surprise.
Top


INSIDE WAS GREAT, WE NOW GO OUTSIDE. One of Rob's favorites is a sculpture called the Beast. The sculpture staff in describing the artwork said imagine a nasty critter. So, how do you compliment a piece of artwork like that? Rob didn't go with anything traditional, they went with nasty Barberries. Barberries with thorns help promote the theme and create a subliminal message that if you lean too close, you get poked. Another piece that exemplifies the marriage between horticulture and sculpture is a piece called Cabin Creek. Cabin Creek looks like a collection of driftwood, assembled into a horse. It too needed its own space. What they were looking for was a southwestern feel, a range, maybe a Wyoming type feel, an area where the range grasses are growing and there's nothing pretty, nothing like a lawn or flowers. So they used tall grasses around the sculpture. Speaking of horses, probably the one they're most famous for is what they call The American Horse. It's obviously inspired by the da Vinci horse. It's 25 feet tall, a massive bronze sculpture. How do you landscape around this? It's not easy, it needs its own space, when you consider the size and scale. Here there is nothing around, it's wide open, no trees, flowers, not even shrubs. You want people to flow around it, to walk underneath, crawl up the hooves, roll down, take pictures, paint, whatever they want to do. The marriage of art and landscape here is effective.
Eric Johnson shares his weekly tip. There are so many flowering plants in the garden that are great to bring inside and cheer up any living space. A favorite is Hydrangea Macrophylla which is one we don't often think about in flower arrangements. Next, Eric shows us some vases that he uses for the arrangement. These have really nice even tones that will not distract from the beauty of the blooms. Eric has several other plants that he likes to bring inside. For example, Forsythia, Red Bud, and flowering Cherry's. When one cuts these plants back it encourages additional blooms. So as you're looking out into your garden give some thought to wonderful plants you can bring inside and cheer up your living spaces.
When looking at the conservatory from the outside, it is one of the most prominent structures, what Rob calls the masterpiece. The roof-line is unique. Most aren't domed but square. This is a tribute to the greenhouse or hothouse industry, one of the most prominent industries in Michigan. There are greenhouses all over the state of Michigan. Next to this is the amphitheater which has a unique roof - a leaf motif. The amphitheater has been effective at bringing in people who would not normally visit a botanical garden or art museum. When visitors come to listen to a performer, they have a great opportunity to see the gardens. Thus they park the tram in front before the show allowing visitors to take tram rides and get to see the gardens.
Next is an incredible arch. It's by Andy Goldsworthy and is truly remarkable. It's made from quarried stone from Scotland, was shipped here and put in place. There is no mortar, it's a feat of physics when stacked up.
Top


The next garden was incorporated because Fred was approached by some friends from rural areas who pointed out that the heritage of agriculture and the part rural agriculture plays in our lives was being lost. We have a whole generation of kids that have no idea where bacon and butter, vegetables or fruit come from. SO HIS FRIENDS WORKED WITH FRED AND RECREATED A FARM GARDEN. They decided to build a replica of the farm Lena grew up on, right down to the paint color of the house. This is the last era in American history where a family was self sufficient. The farm took care of their needs, everything from food to wool to firewood, even their sugar source, which was either honey or maple syrup. In the heirloom garden they have selected heirloom seeds. Jan is planting some heirloom tomatoes - Mortgage Lifter, Mr. Stripey, Yellow Pear, Isis Candy, Cherry, these are all great, flavorful tomatoes. They originate from an era where flavor was still valued. Over the years because of harvesting, storage and shipping concerns much of the flavor has been bred out of our vegetables.
Top


CHILDREN ARE IMPORTANT TO LENA AND THE IMPETUS TO CREATE THE CHILDREN'S GARDEN. Children when given the opportunity to touch, smell, taste and to hear elements in the garden, remember the experience. It becomes meaningful. The texture garden provides an opportunity to touch the texture of a vine, or fescue and see how they contrast with the coarse texture of the bark of the Paperbark Maple, or the broad leaf effect of the Chinese Rhubarb. They have a neat plant called Pigs Feet. When kids rub it it squeaks, it sounds like a pig. On of Rob's favorites is Fritillaria, also called Crown Imperial. It comes up the same time as tulips but comes up bigger and bolder and holds its color longer. It's a great plant. The guests here said water is important in a children's garden. So, rather than introduce a pool they've recreated the Great Lakes. Kids come here in the summer, splash and have a ball. Another area of this garden is called The Quarry Garden. Here are placed fossils for the kids to unearth when they dig through the sand. In keeping with everything else here this is complimented with appropriate horticulture. Dawn Redwoods from the Cretaceous Period and Ferns and all kinds of plants that compliment that historic era are present. To find the ideal plants they researched what was native in Michigan thousands of years ago. Was it the T-Rex? No, it was the Sabertooth Cat and six foot beavers. Thus they recreated the six foot beaver in a topiary. It looks real and is situated in the wetlands. Wetlands are important because they're a great laboratory for outdoor learning. They conduct a lot of classes here, this area provides many valuable learning opportunities.
It is important in this garden to get a sense of diversity when going from garden to garden. When one walks from the Children's Garden filled with 500 to 1000 children, not 5 minutes away one enters the Shade Garden. Here there are squirrels, birds and maybe one other person. People need that tranquil getaway and it is that. Joe is impressed with the fact that there is a lot of color here. One reason is the hardwoods haven't fully leafed out yet but there will be plenty of color afterwards. There are great trees perfectly selected for this area. One is Redbud which flowers, then leafs out. The Dogwoods and Magnolias and the Forsythias are great and brighten up a shady spot. There is also a great selection of plants. Hostas are starting to emerge. They're a great plant for shade. They have Lungwort or Pulmonaria, a great foliage plant which has a great flower on top, it is vivid. Bleeding Heart, the Dicentra is colorful as well. There is plenty of color in this Shade garden. And for the past 30 days bulbs have been coming up. Everything from Tulips to Daffodils to Hyacinth, even Woodland Wildflowers which have been in this area for, maybe, a thousand years. It's beautiful.
Fredrik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is unique, beautiful and truly a great place to visit. Thanks Rob.
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LINKS:

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park


   
 
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By Kimberly Toscano, Encore Azaleas, Photographs courtesy of Encore Azaleas

When moving into a new home it is always tempting to start planting as soon as possible. But, before digging into planting take some time to get to know the landscape and develop a plan for success. For an informative article on the topic, click here.


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