Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Getty Finale

Finally before leaving the theatre and the Getty Garden really is horticultural theatre, I want to tell you about the showstopper. This is a feature that I just loved, the Getty umbrellas. No it wasn't a rainy day and these certainly wouldn't have kept out a shower, let alone a downpour. These are huge metal frames - quite sculptural, like giant rusty parasols with bougainvillea trained through them.

I've seen them a couple of times and maybe on neither occasion at their peak but loved this unique way of training this wonderful scrambling shrub. Bougainvillea has been a favourite of mine for years and I have several brilliantly coloured cultivars in my yard here but these are really something! On this occasion, as the last picture shows, much of the frames were naked but being sculptural in their own right, they still looked great!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

More of the Garden at the Getty

Well I promised a bit more on the beautiful Garden at the Getty, as its called. This is the work of the artist Robert Irwin. He describes this as 'a sculpture in the form of a garden', but this is no esoteric experiment with inert materials. It's a beautiful plantsman's garden - sorry - plantperson's garden,  filled with glorious plants arranged in the most exquisite way. Irwin's statement, "Always changing, never twice the same," is carved into the plaza floor, reminding visitors of the ever-changing nature of this living work of art. Not surprisingly a horticulturalist was also involved right through the planning and production stages, sourcing plants and experimenting with planting combinations. Leading into the garden is a ravine with zig-zag paths, a shallow rocky stream and some strong planting. 


One then passes down into a circular path that runs around the pool at a lower level with closely planted borders on either side. Annuals jostle with shrubs and herbaceous perennials in lovely combinations. The path passes under arches ribboned with climbers and shade is provided by a matrix of trees which we struggled to identify in their leafless state but finally decided were Lagerstroma - lovely in a few weeks. Anyway - I'm going to let the pictures tell the story.

What more can one say - an absolute joy to experience!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Getty Center

If ever you are in Los Angeles and have an interest in art, architecture or gardens, then a visit to the Getty Center is a MUST! I visited a few years back but was delighted to make a return trip with my friend Jim just a couple of weeks ago. Having arrived and parked in an immense subterranean car park, we took an amazing little hovertrain funicular that transported us up 900ft  to the hilltop where the 24 acre Getty Center is located. After Paul Getty's death in 1976, the Getty Trust purchased this site to build a museum and house his art collection. The first amazing thing was that its free - no admission charge!

The architecture is startling. It was designed by Richard Meier and opened in 1997 after extensive delays. Most of the buildings are clad in beautiful travertine, a white form of limestone. The shapes include strong geometric patterns, contrasted with sweeping curves, echoed in the landscaping. As it's a gallery I must say something about the art which is of the highest calibre. It was great to stand in front of Van Gogh's original irises and marvel at this famous painting, finished in the asylum where he was incarcerated for insanity. (A sobering thought as I pursue my own painting activities!) Having said that it's the architecture and gardens that steal the show!

Throughout the site there are many examples of good landscape, excellent tree planting, bold sweeps of grass, strong hedges and some striking water features. Small pocket gardens appear in various locations such as the wonderful cactus garden with its splendid view out over Los Angeles.

However for me the highlight was the Central Garden, which I had loved on my last visit.  The centre of the circular garden is a huge pool containing a maze of azaleas which seem to float on the water. On my last visit these were just green and created a strong and pleasing patter. On this occasion, they were in flower - a sight to rival almost any azalea garden! 

Our last visit with the azaleas out of bloom

Surrounding the pool there is a path lined with borders packed with  shrubs, herbaceous, annuals, bedding, climber and bulbs all planted in meticulously co-ordinated groups. It reminded me of the level of planting at places in the UK such as Sissinghurst Castle and Hidcote Manor. But the planting here is so spectacular that I'll reserve that for the next episode - sorry to keep you all waiting!