Friday, September 18, 2009

The Late Show Gardens ... Innovative Design


A Gala Evening Event ushered in The Late Show Gardens,
Taking Place in Wine Country at Cornerstone Sonoma, September 18, 19 & 20
Here's a Preview! 

The Grow Melt Project
Designers: Peter Good, Liz Einwiller, Adam Greenspan, Sarah Kuehl and David Fong

Calling attention to climate change, the garden features an austere yet sublime
 wall of glittering ice; its melting form generating a pool of water 
during the duration of the show.

As the sun set during the preview event, an opening appeared,  signaling the onset of the ice wall's conversion to water.
I'm returning to the Show today, where temperatures are expected to reach 90 degrees.

Moments after completion of the wall's construction, 
Peter Good attends to the garden's faceted stepping stones.


  1. this is just stunning! I'll be there tomorrow morning and can't WAIT! Thanks for the preview pictures to 'whet' our appetites!

  2. A great idea - a really clever way of showing exactly what's happening now at the poles.

  3. I'm sorry. After all, I am me . . . but all I can think of (apart from 'how odd') is how much power was used in making the ice so it could melt? Hey ho!

    Haven't visited for a while - but hope you are having a good summer.


  4. Gorgeous! And I LOVE me a conceptual garden! BUT - I am scared for the mexican fence post cactus in the water!
    I get the point, but yikes! It doesn't take long to kill them if drainage isn't sharp ...
    Am I being a total plant geek? Should I just enjoy the beauty? Because beautiful and lyrical and meaningful it is...


  5. Excellent extremes to make the required statement. As a horticulturist I can't imagine a more extreme statement executed more simply in a vista that could be less impossible now than we once thought. I hope these images travel with their message!

  6. Hello all,

    I've been busy writing about the LSG gardens, and working in my garden (aching back, etc.) that I failed to reply here to your comments.

    I loved this garden installation....for its beauty and its message.

    Truly, I was blown away by it. To be able to say so much with so few elements - I find that brilliant.

    Esther, you raise an interesting point, and one I will talk with Peter about when I see him again.

    Germi, I'm sure the plants were saved from drowning when the show ended on Sunday. I'm a plant geek, with the same concerns :~)

    Rebecca, Charlotte, Sue, and Pat, Thanks! I enjoy your comments & love especially love to share events on my home turf.

    Cheers! Alice

  7. I'm with Esther. More wasted energy, more global warming. Who has missed the point here? Did you talk with Peter?

  8. EE, I'm going to go out on a limb here:
    First off, I have not been able to talk with Peter about the logistics of making the garden.

    Personally, I believe many of us strive to do our best every day to conserve water, recycle, and in general, live a lifestyle that will have the least impact on the planet.
    I also believe that any of our lives, if examined, can be picked apart and found lacking... including those of us who are staunch believers in the necessity for change - change that's critical at this point in time.
    Yet, no one does it perfectly.

    Making art has always been a driving force in my life. My experience of The Grow Melt Project was to interact with a work of art. A work of art that was also a very contemporary take on garden design.

    I hesitate to speak for Esther, but I think I can safely say - based on her comments on this blog - that she finds Modernist design ugly. (I'd need to dig around a bit, but I do seem to recall she used the term to describe one or more of the gardens I've written about here.) That said: I love Esther's blog and her quirky, unique perspective.

    Now I'll quote James A-S in his latest post, "chacun a son gout" ...

    Maybe the designers of The Grow Melt Project erred in the process of creating it, but I won't soon forget it. Nor, do I think, will anyone who saw it.

  9. Diana - I felt quite moved when I read your comment.

    Alice - You've got me thinking. I tend to respond to each thing separately and hadn't noticed that, cumulatively, it amounts to not liking a particular style of design - it's probably true. (Though I'll carry on responding separately to what I see or I might miss the exceptions.)

    Further than that, I realise what I like is for things to grow - so to see a blade of grass is as exciting as a grand plant. Yesterday, I was looking at some clumps of grass which have grown beside the runner beans. (I'm waiting for the seeds on the beans to ripen, ready for next year.) The clumps of grass are green and lovely - much nicer than the plant which looks like a dead clump of grass which my husband bought from the garden centre. (Yet, if I lived in a desert, I would probably love the dead-looking one too. (As long as it wasn't.) (Dead.))

    Which makes me realise I don't like seeing design! You mention James Alexander-Sinclair. I've only seen his gardens in photos but, to me, they look lovely. I would enjoy being and walking in them. But I sense I would breath the air and look at the plants and not spare a moment's thought for the 'design' - even though I know an enormous amount of work, study, knowledge, thought and care will have gone into creating them. The 'design' behind the design has vanished in the result. And I appreciate that.

    Evidence of 'design', it seems (design so you notice the design more than the garden) is the enemy of growing. In the garden you feature here, there are cactuses - plants which are not renowned for sprawling about the place, for stretching their tendrils (!) or needing to be cut back every five minutes. They sit still and be good plants. They don't do anything which will interupt or spoil the design. The 'design' is the purpose, rather than 'design' in the service of plants.

    I've had a revelation. Thank you Diana and Alice.


    P.S. I like the header with the stone water-course.

  10. Oh - except that I don't want to give the imression I remarked upon the ice because of the design - I really was bothered about the energy involved. (I go round being bothered by lots of things. My friends get very fed up with me from time to time!) (The ones I have left!)


  11. What an AWESOME thread - I have to jump in here!

    First, Alice, thank you SO MUCH for providing a forum for a discussions like this, which are vital to me as a designer! I love to be challenged, and the opportunity to debate and express my concerns and opinions sharpens my skills ... so again, big thanks!

    Hi Esther! I have to say that I TOTALLY get where you are coming from - as a plant maniac myself, I also tend to dislike the cold, overly hardscaped 'Landscape Architechtonics' that fill our public spaces these days. I understand WHY they happen - a prevailing style that favors the kind of geometry that is available via computer aided design, a lack of training on plant material in many landscape architecture programs (shocking, but true!), and possibly more importantly, a very real lack of properly skilled garden maintenance workers to keep plant- intensive public spaces in fighting trim.

    But I believe it isn't evidence of design that is a problem, it is the evidence of BAD or THOUGHTLESS design. A skilled designer can make even the 'hardest' hardscape sing by creating a planting that balances and creates harmony. I love seeing that. I enjoy the hand of the designer, and I enjoy smart decisions. As much as I enjoy seeing plants growing with exuberant abandon, I also enjoy seeing that exuberance channelled for a certain effect. It is the design impulse that allows us to inhabit our outdoor spaces, that helps to carve out niches where we can quietly read surrounded by fragrance, that can anticipate my desire to sit to enjoy a moment, and provide a place for me to do it.

    The Grow Melt Garden wasn't a garden as much as it was an art installation using plants as a medium to express a thought. I don't for one minute imagine that the designers were proposing this as a REAL garden to be sited in a park or public venue permanently ... it would be counter to all of the ideas presented in the piece. Yes, it took an enormous amount of energy to make the ice just to have it melt - I think we were supposed to feel uncomfortable about that. The rising water drowning the famously dry-loving vertical cactus made me VERY uncomfortable - and I had to congratulate the designers for eliciting a real emotion! This is hard to do. I consider Grow/Melt very successful, even though it made me uncomfortable - as it was intending to do. That's why I consider it an art piece. Conceptual art isn't really about being pretty or correct; it can often be upsetting, challenging, and problematic. It often wants to initiate dialog, and shift perspective ... if only for a moment.

    Your statement that "Evidence of design ... is the enemy of growing" for me, is a bit extreme. Not all growing is to be heralded - we cut, we weed, we remove certain plants in favor of others. Personal taste aside, evidence of design (garden design, that is) can and should be a partner to growing.

    ... and I assure you, cactus and succulents can grow and sprawl and get in the way of hardscape design. The ones in the Grow/Melt get so enormous in some places they become a forest! Take a look at Alice's posts on Lotusland to see how sprawling and unpredictable these plants can be ... it is just a different 'look' than herbaceous perennials.

    I LOVE that you go round getting bothered by things! I get my dander up alot, too! Don't go changin'!

    Thanks again for the opportunity to 'rant', Alice the Tendril! MWAH!