Posts tagged ‘Enid A. Haupt Garden’
On May 10th We celebrated National Public Gardens Day with Earth Matters to Smithsonian Gardens – Garden Fest 2013! It was a busy (and hot) day energized by music, dancing, crafts, tomato potting, and lots of information for the home gardener, from composting to attracting pollinators.
When we asked artist Emily C-D to design a collaborative, ephemeral art activity for Garden Fest we were excited to see what she would dream up. For weeks we collected leaves, flowers, and more from our gardens and greenhouses, eager to see how she would incorporate the materials into an artwork dependent on visitor participation that would only last for one day.
In her own words, here is Emily’s take on her process and vision:
What was your inspiration for the project?
Emily: I was asked to come up with a temporary, participatory art piece appropriate for a festival about gardening that would also reference the Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor exhibit at the National Museum of African Art. Drawing on my experience as a muralist who has often painted on horizontal surfaces, and also as an explorer that has experienced the beauty of Mexican tapetes (ephemeral carpets), I proposed the creation of a ground mural out of natural materials. I have always enjoyed transforming the floor—crosswalks, sidewalks, streets, and bridges—because the process of creation and the finished piece are intrinsically participatory. I can invite people of all ages and abilities to join in the fun since the surface to be transformed does not necessitate the use of ladders or scaffolding. The public that walks across the finished work of art enters the world created by the designs and colors, literally becoming a part of the piece. For Garden Fest, it seemed appropriate that we would use organic materials from the garden itself—seeds, leaves, petals, sticks, wood chips, rocks, and dirt—to “paint” the mural.
Can you tell us a little bit more about “garden carpets” in Mexico?
Emily: Tapetes (literally, carpet in Spanish) are temporary works of art that are created on the ground out of brightly colored sawdust and other organic materials like flower petals, beans, seeds, and rice. In Mexico, their creation is a public event that draws the community together and is often associated with the celebration of a religious holiday. Tapetes can be monumental, perhaps covering the entire block that surrounds a church. It takes an incredible amount of patience, time, and energy to create a work of art of such magnitude (and often quite impressive detail and design), and yet tapetes are meant to be walked on. They are pathways for spiritual processions and as such they are ephemeral, lasting only a day or two. The value of tapetes lies within a process that builds community and brings people into the present through the creation of a moment of beauty.
Did everything go as planned? Did anything surprise you?
Emily: The nature of my community practice is such that the element of surprise is built into the projects. My role as the artist is to create an open framework that establishes cohesiveness within a work of art that involves the contributions of many hands and minds. Although I might be working with specific themes, materials, and/or designs, many details are left up to the participants so that they might have a sense of ownership of the piece, and not just feel like “helpers.” In the case of Garden Carpet, I drew a very basic design onto a large piece of canvas which people were encouraged to “color in” using the various materials at hand—sort of like a page from a monumental coloring book. The symmetrical nature of my drawing influenced the placement of the materials (sand, pinecones, or pink sawdust), so that without directing people as to where to place what, the final work exhibited an incredible sense of balance. It was a constant surprise to me as to which colors and textures were chosen to fill in the different areas of the design, and yet at the end of the day, my original drawing still shone through.
What was your favorite moment of the day?
Emily: The moment when two girls began to fill in the blank design with color was especially exciting, and viewing the finished work at the end of the day was definitely very satisfying. Although, I have to stress that I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout the day. Every moment was filled with color, collaboration, and creation!
How did you get into community art, and what do you enjoy about collaborating with the public?
Art is a form of communication that can transgress boundaries of language and culture. As such, I have always been interested in increasing the accessibility of art so that we might all realize our creative potential and cooperate in the creation of a more vivid, expressive world. I first got into community art back in 2004 when I facilitated the painting of new outdoor seating for a public library in Baltimore. Since then, I have been creating fun, interactive projects that blur the line between spectator and participant, working with people to discover color, rhythm, and beauty within the chaos of our reality.
At the end of the day the installation was rolled up and composted at our greenhouse facility, but it lives on in photographs and the memories of those who contributed to its creation.
Emily C-D is based out of Mexico City and Baltimore. You can view more of her community art on her website: http://www.emilycd.com/
-Kate Fox, museum educator
2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of the horticulture division of the Smithsonian Institution. Known as Smithsonian Gardens to the public since 2010, the department was called the Office of Horticulture when it was founded on July 31, 1972. Secretary S. Dillon Ripley, an enthusiastic ornithologist and conservationist, sought to extend the interior exhibits outside the museum walls. Though most of the museums were surrounded by some sort of landscaping, it was not until this time that the grounds were brought together under the umbrella of the Office of Horticulture and a plan was developed to integrate the gardens into the educational mission of the Smithsonian. Secretary Ripley was an innovative thinker, bringing the much-loved and iconic carousel to the mall as well as helping to found the Folklife Festival. The first major project for the Office of Horticulture was establishing the Victorian Garden in time for the 1976 United States Bicentennial. The Victorian Garden parterre became the basis for the Enid A. Haupt Garden, which opened to the public in 1987. The history of the gardens is explored more in depth in A Guide to Smithsonian Gardens, published in 2011.
What started as a small staff and half of a shared green house has now grown to 180 acres of gardens on the mall, 64,000 square feet of greenhouse space, the Archives of American Gardens research collection, and a variety of educational programming. Our gardens showcase modern sculpture, explore the landscapes of past Americans, celebrate the beauty of the Victorian age, highlight exotic and heirloom plants, and create a serene environment in a busy city.
Let’s take a step back in time and explore Smithsonian gardens through the decades:
-Kate Fox, Smithsonian Gardens Contractor
Yesterday, May 22, 2012 was the 25th anniversary of the Smithsonian’s Enid A. Haupt Garden–the Silver Anniversary. Fittingly, many silver plants grace this garden. One of the most striking is Senecio cineraria ‘Cirrus.’ You may recognize it by its common name – Dusty Miller. But this isn’t any old common plant; the cultivar ‘Cirrus’ is big, bold and beautiful!
Senecio cineraria ‘Cirrus’ is an evergreen, usually grown as an annual, with toothed, silver-gray, felted leaves. The plant is actually a short-lived perennial and will act as such if grown in mild climates or in protected areas of the garden. It usually grows in a clump measuring approximately one foot by one foot. A small, button-shaped, yellow flower appears in the second year of growth.
The color silver acts as a great garden blender. An area filled with multiple, sometimes unrelated, colors can be made harmonious with the addition of silver. A mistake made by many gardeners is the belief that white is a color to use for blending multiple, uncomplimentary colors. White screams, it doesn’t blend. Silver saves many exuberant, multi-chromatic plantings from being garish.
Many silver plants have textures that add an interesting element to garden plantings; imagine the gravelly appearance of sedums and echeverias. Some add a strong, flinty look, while others have a powdery-blue appearance and of course there are the fuzzy gray leaves so common among herbs.
Silver plants reflect the light. When the sun is setting, silver foliage reflects the rosy sunsets and glow. And if the silver plant has a fuzzy texture, dew collects on the leaves in the morning. Not only are the individual hairs magnified, but the whole plant tends to sparkle in the early morning sunshine.
Many silver plants are sculptural; their strong, clean lines would be right at home in a museum of modern art.
Environmental concerns: The silver-grays enjoy really well-drained soil. Gardeners working with clay soils have to be careful where they site them. These plants also hate humidity. Sage always falters in mid-Atlantic summers – big sections die, making the plants look raggedy. Try planting herbs, such as sage, in soil amended with pea gravel or chicken grit. Consider planting lavender on a sharp slope and then mulch with gravel or chicken grit to prevent the crown of the plant from rotting. Be careful not to crowd silver plants since they need good air circulation to prevent die-back. You can hear all the silver foliaged plants breathe a collective sigh of relief when the humidity drops in the fall.
Design concerns: Take care not to overplant silver-foliaged plants. You really can have too much of a good thing. How many silver pillows do you really need in one garden? And if we have a really wet summer you have a collection of slimy, droopy, silver pillows in your garden.
Are you a garden enthusiast who enjoys history on the side, or perhaps a history buff with an interest in the outdoors? Well now you’re in luck! Come on down to the Enid A. Haupt Garden behind the Castle on the National Mall and join our garden interpreters for Smithsonian Gardens’ newest educational program, History in Bloom.
Through fun and interactive activities you can learn about the Smithsonian’s history of collecting exotic plant species from around the world and experience Victorian-era culture preserved right here in the Haupt Garden. Whether you are using historic photographs to explore the garden’s changing landscape or embarking on a global scavenger hunt, you will enjoy discovering the many hidden treasures this garden has to offer!
Look for our garden interpreters in the Haupt Garden on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30 to 1:30 to explore the history of Smithsonian Gardens. Our interpreters will facilitate activities that teach visitors about the history in the Haupt Garden and give them the tools to investigate the garden like explorers throughout history.
To learn more about this program visit Smithsonian Gardens’ website. Now go ahead and take an outdoor journey through time!
Corey Colwill, Education Volunteer