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Glass in the Garden – Trends at the 2017 Northwest Flower and Garden Show (NWFGS)

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Trends in Gardening are admittedly slower to change than trends in fashion or interiors.  Some come and go within a season. Other trends seem to gain momentum slowly until they become ubiquitous features in garden design.

Glass is one of those trends. Although glass has been popular garden art for many years, I find it interesting that glass, in some form, is in almost all of the display gardens this year. Is glass a garden feature, important to design, like seating, water features or garden buildings?

Trends in Gardening 2017

I love glass. It is a durable, water-proof material that holds up well in the garden as long as it is secured in the ground or attached to structures properly so that it doesn’t break. I know some would disagree – glass is sharp if broken and can be dangerous to people and pets.

Glass balls or floats have been used extensively in fountains. Several of the display gardens have used them as spots of color and musical notes as they clink together in the water.  Designers Phil Wood, Bob Lilly,  and Rhonda Bush used them as privacy screens, almost like gabions in the Washington Park Arboretum garden “The Garden of Artful Delight – Homage to the Art and Garden of Ginny Ruffner”. I love the way the light shines through the jewel toned balls of color. In fact, in this garden, glass takes on many shapes from leaves to flowers to squiggles of opaque glass in the entrance arbor and is present in the ground, in pots and in the trellis and arbors.

Milky white glass globes, bamboo sticks and other rounded glass shapes of glass artist Jesse Kelly enhance the theme of the “Circles All Around Us” garden created by designers Susan Browne and Steve Hussey.

In this photo, the white globes and green “chalices” reflect the theme “round in shape, or with round leaves or flowers”. The rusted metal sculptures and circular gates are a pleasing contrast to the white tulips, hellebore and variegated plants such as Pieris japonica ‘Varigata’.

Glass  chandeliers, made famous by Dale Chihuly, although on a smaller scale have been showing up in gardens for many years now. In the garden,  “Terra Cadence – the Rhythm of the Earth” created by designer by Susan Calhoun and collaborators  Ryan Blythe and Michelle Burgess, the crystalline clear glass of the chandelier look like icicles or  a waterfall, particularly with the rill of water,  trickling below it.

This year glass is presented on a massive scale. Designers and collaborators Karen Stefonick, Steve Spear and Bill Ellsbury in the “Darwin’s Muse Art Imitating Life” garden, show case the intricate and exquisitely formed artwork of Jason Gamrath. The streamlined building and limited but beautiful plant palette really display the glass sculpture to amazing effect. The glass orchids and pitcher plants (Sarracenia sp.)  are so realistic in color and shape; they almost look like real plants.

You can view more of Debbie Teashon’s wonderful photographs in her video, Art in Bloom or better yet come to the NWFGS and see for yourself!

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