Garden as Work of Art: The Central Garden
Imagine a beautiful garden. What do you like best about it? The feel of fuzzy leaves? The smell of mint? The fantastic shapes of flowers? Eating vegetables from it?
Did you know that a garden can be a work of art? The Central Garden at the Getty Center was designed by artist Robert Irwin. He had to think like an artist when he put the garden together.
Like a painter, Irwin experimented with colors. For example, should a plant with bright orange blossoms go behind a dark purple bush, or would it look better next to flaming red roses?
Like a sculptor, Irwin looked for plants with interesting shapes. He chose plants with squiggly corkscrew stems, huge flowers shaped like trumpets, and other fun shapes.
Like a photographer, Irwin had to take into account how the sun shifts and changes the appearance of things at different times of the day.
Do you think a garden looks the same in the early morning as it does at sunset? Find a spot outdoors where plants are growing. Check it out at various times of the day. See for yourself what Irwin knew—misty, early-morning light makes a garden look mysterious; strong, midday sun makes colors look paler; and in evening light, shadows grow long. What other changes can you discover?
Irwin didn't create the Central Garden by himself. Like many artists who produce large-scale projects, he worked with a team of people. Engineers, soil scientists, plant experts, and Getty staff all helped him.
Come to the Getty Center in the spring, and see the Central Garden at its most glorious time of the year.