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The True Future of Garden Design

Design Improvisation with Sand and Succulents

Sproutopia Display Garden

I’ve noticed that mainstream media articles like to describe flower and garden shows as a sneak peak at the future of outdoor garden design. Personally, I think it’s more of a sneak peak at what will be showing up in garden shows, rather than the overwhelming majority of actual gardens.  For instance, I read two articles talking about how all the colors at the northwest show were hot colors, especially oranges and yellows, and that there were no blues, and that this signals a move towards bold hot colors in the future, but I remember reading the same articles last year and I think it just represents that the designers have an understanding of what looks good at the garden show. I can say from experience that orange and yellow are the two colors which show up best in the indoor lighting at the shows, and that blues completely disappear. Last year we had some Nemophillas (Baby Blue Eyes) in full bloom, but they were invisible in our garden, while a rather garish red Alonsoa meridionalis suddenly became the plant that everyone wanted to have, once the plants were indoors and the lighting had dialed down the colors several notches. Anita and I’d never attended a garden show before, or we’d have used more oranges and yellows and hot reds and pinks ourselves, and if I ever do one again you’ll see a a lack of blues, even though they include many of my favorite flowers. It’s a testament to how much influence site will always have on a design, even when the site is a complete blank slate like in a garden show.

In any case, my skepticism aside, in the spirit of offering a sneak peak at the true future of garden design, I present several design improvisations from Sproutopia, the garden show playland where tomorrow’s garden designers explore their design ideas today. As you will see, the best of the displays show an acute sensitivity towards site and material, a love for mixing different hardscape elements including stone, an interest in the architectural forms of succulents and conifers, and that the concept of “outdoor rooms” seems to have caught on with the next generation of designers. My apologies to the designers for not doing a better job of photographing their work, and a salute to whoever at the garden show is responsible for Sproutopia. The kids I saw were having a really good time. Enjoy.

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2 Responses to “The True Future of Garden Design”

  1. March 26th, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Town Mouse says:

    We missed Sproutopia this year, but really enjoyed it last year. It’s amazing how creative the kids are.

  2. March 26th, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Country Mouse says:

    I left a link to your blog on the children’s miniature gardens on my posting about the show today. Great shots – I love these tiny fantasies. Kids really are so creative.