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The Late Show Gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma

Stone Sculpture by Edwin Hamilton

Stone Sculpture by Edwin Hamilton

I have some photos from the Late Show Gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma, the Bay Area’s new fall garden show, this past weekend. Cornerstone describes itself as “an eclectic collection of shops, wineries and a gourmet cafe set amidst nine acres of garden installations created by the world’s leading landscape architects.” LostintheLandscape has photos from a recent visit here and here.┬áThe Late Show Gardens, “the latest in design every fall,” is the new fall garden show hosted there. As they say in their tagline, the show is more about design than plants, and the demo gardens this year were all high-design, high-concept — a dinner table/water feature planted with edibles, a metaphor for global warming, corroded oil tankers and drums repurposed as planters. Garden Porn and Bay Area Tendrils already have photos up, and probably some other blogs, too. The demo gardens were all pretty interesting, but I was most impressed by the stone sculptures of Edwin Hamilton, a stoneworker whose work shows up regularly in books and magazines. Everyone always comments about how building rock walls is like putting together a giant puzzle, but his sculptures truly are put together like puzzles. Very tight.

Late Show Demo Garden

Late Show Demo Garden

Late Show Demo Garden

Late Show Demo Garden

Late Show Demo Garden

Late Show Demo Garden

This one started with a giant block of ice that melted and transformed the space into a reflecting pool, an unsubtle metaphor for global warming. It was pretty effective, actually, because of the cactus; it felt distinctly unsettling to see it in standing water. Kind of messed up to do that to a cactus, but I guess that’s the point.

We were checking out grasses for a couple of upcoming installs. I have photos of the grasses and some more sculpture by Edwin Hamilton below.

Sculpture with Carex divulsa Lawn

Sculpture with Carex divulsa Lawn

This lawn of Berkeley Sedge (Carex divulsa syn. tumicula) looks a little different than I expected. Berkeley Sedge gets pretty big, a foot or two high and easily two feet wide, in a planting, but it was a lot lower growing as a lawn. The sculpture is an installation made of bamboo and recycled wood, pretty cool.

Blue Fescue Lawn with Pennisetum Fairy Tails

Blue Fescue Lawn with Pennisetum Fairy Tails

Carex pansa is getting touted these days as an alternative for traditional lawns. The question is how well it takes traffic. Most people say it does, but there are dissenting voices out there. It’s showing heavy wear as a pathway here, but then most turf wouldn’t hold up to so much traffic either.

Carex pansa Pathway

Carex pansa Pathway

Yoji Sasaki Garden

Yoji Sasaki Garden

I usually dismiss strips of turf between hardscape as something architects do, an ill-advised way to get visual interest, with the turf usually over or under-watered, either squishy or half-dead. But the Garden Visceral Serenity by Yoji Sasaki has stood up really well over time, probably the best of all the gardens. Many of the other permanent installations show signs of their age, and several of them have had major elements redone since they were installed five years ago, but the Sasaki garden still looks like it did when it was first installed, the immutability of lawn. When you sit inside the big metal structure, relaxing on the cushions inside, there is indeed a visceral serenity as Sasaki promises.

Cornerstone Lawn

Yoji Sasaki Garden

Oehme Van Sweden Garden

Oehme Van Sweden Garden

The Oehme, Van Sweden installation with agaves and Mexican feathergrass was another testament to the power of a grass I try to avoid planting. I don’t know what the story is with the big stone ball. Edwin Hamilton has a big stone ball there, too.

Stone Sculpture by Edwin Hamilton

A Big Stone Ball by Edwin Hamilton

Stone Sculpture by Edwin Hamilton

Stone Sculpture by Edwin Hamilton

Stone Sculpture by Edwin Hamilton

Stone Sculpture by Edwin Hamilton

Stone Sculpture by Edwin Hamilton

Stone Sculpture by Edwin Hamilton

— Update —

A Youtube video of the Late Show gardens. Nice images, but beware, the soundtrack is appalling.

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4 Responses to “The Late Show Gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma”

  1. September 24th, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    lostlandscape(James) says:

    Ryan, thanks for the links. It looks like they pulled out a few more stops for this event. The Hamilton stone pieces are pretty amazing. I’m especially attracted to the second one, the Jean Arp looking biomorphic shape. I wonder how hard fitting the pieces together really is in this age of gonzo tools and heavy machinery. It does look impressive, though.

    It’s a pity about all the Mexican feather grass. At least two of the gardens used it in a big way. Pretty, evil little plants. I’m about to start replacing what’s left of mine with something more appropriate, but dang that stuff sure self-sows itself everywhere…

  2. September 25th, 2009 at 9:11 am

    ryan says:

    Yesterday I weeded out a few feather grasses from a garden where they were planted 7 years ago and taken out 2 years later; they are still coming up from the seed bank. Evil, pretty plants, I agree. Even with AutoCad and high-tech stonecutting saws, I think those stone pieces would be a lot of work and take a lot of skill.

  3. September 25th, 2009 at 10:37 am

    michelle d. says:

    Hi Ryan,
    It is always interesting to hear the perspective from another stone mason and landscape designer when reviewing a new piece of work.

    I’m a huge fan of Edwin Hamiton’s work. So much so that when we collaborated on a project together I told the clients to give him full and free artistic discretion. They never regretted it.
    I love the new pieces that he had exhibited at the Late Show Gardens. Such talent !

    Michelle

  4. September 25th, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Daffodil Planter says:

    An educational tour–really appreciated your commentary.

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