Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Late Show Gardens ... The Hermit's Garden - A Glimpse of the Future?

The Hermit's Garden The Late Show Gardens
Designers: Kate Frey and Ben Frey

Kate Frey is known for her long stint as the garden director/designer of the lovely Bonterra Gardens - edible, ornamental and habitat - at Fetzer Vineyards, alas, now closed.
To my knowledge, Kate is a rare U.S. designer, having won medals, including 
a Gold Medal for her designs at London's Chelsea Flower Show.

Kate has worked recently with Ben Frey, her husband and owner of Rustic Towers. 
Ben "rescues" wood, bringing it back to life as eye-catching garden towers, furniture, buildings, gates, and other constructions both useful and playful. 

In The Hermit's Garden, the designers create a cautionary narrative.
Their artist's statement presents the image of "man striding from a pastoral, rustic past into an unreflective future where destruction of the environment occurs around him."

Detail from the figure pictured above.

"...the unquenchable desire of the masses for more of everything the earth has to offer has drained the land of water and life. The hermit cannot avoid the momentum of his shared destiny...."

While the garden's delightful aspects draw the viewer in,
I see the design as positing a future that will be bleak 
unless we collectively reassess and change direction.
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  1. A fantastic piece of work amazing how the imagination can vary on a single subject.

  2. Dear Pat, So cool that google is now posting avatars with comments!! Thanks for stopping by. And yes, isn't the scope of the design phenomenally varied and soooo creative? Cheers to my Irish compadre:~)

  3. Very cool, makes me think about when I was a kid and had a sort of imaginary garden in the wood. It was made of found things from our old shack and wild plants.

  4. Oh, no, that's so sad about Bonterra. I loved the gardens Kate Frey did at Chelsea (not to mention the free glass of wine that came with them ...)

  5. This is really, really fun. I'd say I want the whole look in my back yard, but I don't think the fog and wind would do it any favours.

  6. JA H-G, Don't we all yearn, at times, for the sense of discovery we had as children? I can see how this garden would bring back the excitement of making things with scraps of things that became something new and wonderful.

    Victoria, I knew you'd recall Kate's wonderful Chelsea gardens. I was there for Kate's first garden, but missed the 'Gold' except in photos. Bonterra wines are delicious! But I complain loudly whenever possible about the parent company's decision to shutter the garden in Hopland.
    A terrible, ill thought-out move.... period!!

    Hi Jodi, I think we could all use a bit of this garden's magic, but maybe only in one's minds-eye :~D

  7. Alice,
    Thank you for your expanded coverage and fine photography on the Late Show Gardens.
    It was a very introspective show .
    I had the opportunity to return to the show all weekend long and decided not to revisit it.
    By the end of the show I found myself a little glum in retrospective.
    I could have used a little bit more uplifting design messages instead of all the doom and destruction.
    Even in review of the color schemes that most designers chose, it was very dark and moody. Lots of dark muted rusty brown colors.
    Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the show but I could have used a little bit more uplifting messages within the sculptural representations.

  8. I just love your very detailed and thoughtful comments with each garden, Alice. Having also experienced this exhibit, it's so wonderful to read your perspective and to see what images captured your heart as well. You've taken some particularly beautiful photos of The Hermit's Garden (which was one of my favorites) - thanks for sharing this!

  9. Michelle, I'm pleased that you're enjoying the photos. Thanks!
    You've zeroed in on an important aspect of the show - the introspective atmosphere & moody color palette. Friends of mine -outside the world of horticulture -commented on the lack of flowers, but also said they now have an increased understanding of garden design, having learned to look beyond blooms to a world of possibilities and elements that creative designers call upon. I hope the show will have another go-round. It'll be intriguing to see what might come next.
    Maybe you'll make a garden :~)

    Rebecca, Coming from your 'designer- point-of-view'... I I thank you for the compliment!!
    The Hermit's Garden crept up on me. I spent time alone there before the show opened, and that evening, too. When I returned the next day, its impact had brought up a range of feelings, and ideas that occupied my thoughts and continue to do so.