Art in the Garden

Dale Chihuly at the Denver Botanic Gardens

One of the pleasures of traveling across the world, or even across the country, is the opportunity to visit new gardens.

Recently I spent the perfect day with my daughter and two granddaughters meandering around the huge public gardens in the heart of downtown Denver.

The twenty-three acre ‘Denver Botanic Gardens’ actually encompass numerous smaller interlocking garden spaces, like gardens-within-a-garden, with individual themes such as woodland, prairie, or mountain, and each on a scale that we, as ordinary gardeners, can readily embrace.

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Iridescent glass balls at the water’s edge

These gardens are always a treat, but this time they were extra special because they were hosting a display by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.

The sculptures on display ranged from intimate to monumental. While perhaps we could imagine one of the smaller pieces, such as this collection of balls, in our own gardens, the larger creations were truly public art that was designed to be displayed in an expansive setting.

 

But what struck me most was the mutually symbiotic relationship between the art and the garden: Each piece of artwork on display was enhanced by its placement in the gardens and, in equal measure, the gardens were enhanced by the beautiful artwork.

I hope you enjoy this selection from Mr Chihuly’s Denver display. It will be there until November 30 of this year, at which time his staff will carefully dismantle the pieces and pack them up for shipment, either back to his studio in Seattle or on to the next show in his Garden Cycle, at the Fairchild Tropical Plant Gardens, south of Miami.

Fantastical hand-blown glass sculptures

This immense Blue Icicle Tower greeted every visitor as they entered the gardens:

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The Blue Icicle Tower

Nestled among the perennials

The first garden-within-a-garden at Denver is the ever-popular O’Fallon Perennial Walk. As visitors of all ages strolled past the fall display of purple asters, golden rudbeckia and multi-hued dahlias, people literally squealed with delight as they caught sight of exotic hand-blown glass creations snuggled in amongst the flowers.

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Along the O’Fallon Perennial Walk
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Along the O’Fallon Perennial Walk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I understand Mr. Chihuly had made a point of visiting the gardens the previous year to get a sense of the colors and textures of late summer, and planned his exhibit accordingly.

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Along the O’Fallon Perennial Walk

 

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Along the O’Fallon Perennial Walk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Memories of winter

After the autumnal colors of the perennial walk we turned the corner to find the stunning white flowers of the Persian Towers at the base of a waterfall, and the White Tower in a still reflecting pool, both conjuring up memories of a frigid winter’s night.

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Persian Tower
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White Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small sculptures between the flowers

In some of the gardens-within-a-garden we encountered little surprises: small glass sculptures in brilliant hues of red, purple, yellow and orange—each positioned to enhance its unique space, such as these brilliant-hued balls tucked in among the roses:

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A single yellow and gray striped ball beside the roses

 

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Red on tangerine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designed for water

Many of Chihuly’s sculptures, such as this pair of fanciful boats and the elaborate creations in the Monet Pool, were designed to take advantage of the many ponds at the Denver Gardens:

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Balls of every hue fill a small wooden rowboat
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Candles and cactus decorate the Monet Pool
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A sapphire boat floats on a clear blue pon
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Blue Ice Crystal tower overlooking the Sacred Earth Ga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiding in the jungle

Nearing the end of our day we  almost missed these lovely ruby-red flowers hidden in the lush greenery of the tropical conservatory:

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Among the rain forest greenery
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Among the rain forest greenery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer Sun

And finally, to complete our day, we discovered the ‘jewel in the crown’, an enormous glittering ball of twisted strands of orange and yellow that towered over the children as they rolled from top to bottom of the vast grassy amphitheater.

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The Summer Sun

 

3 Responses to “Art in the Garden”

  1. William Barrett

    Wonderful article and photos

    Reply
  2. New Garden Style

    Really enjoyed these photos, thanks for sharing them with us

    Reply

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