Here are 5 extraordinary gardens designed by artists with green thumbs, from Frida Kahlo to Robert Irwin

“Maybe I must have become a flower painter,” Monet once said. He is not alone. To whet your appetite for the upcoming spring season, we’ve compiled a list of five of our favorite artist-designed gardens. Cultivated by artists like Frida Kahlo and members of the Bloomsbury Group, these living works of art offer a glimpse into the lives, minds and inspirations of painters and sculptors beyond their studios.

The Bloomsbury Group Charleston GardenEast Sussex, England

Photo: James Ratchford.

In 1916, British painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant moved into a house in England’s South Downs National Park that would become a gathering place for the Bloomsbury Group, an influential group of avant-garde English intellectuals. The couple’s friend and fellow artist, Roger Fry, helped them grow a walled garden among nearby fruit trees, where each year they planted seeds for new flowers they wanted to paint (hint: they liked the color ). Hollyhocks, fire pokers, Iceland poppies, thistles and at least 10 different types of roses still grow here today. The garden was fertile ground for all kinds of artistic creations: Grant made a mosaic floor outside their studio and configured a hydrangea planter from a plaster torso. Behind the pond, you’ll find a nude by Wedgewood sculptor and designer John Skeaping.

by Robert Iwrin Central Garden at the Getty CenterLos Angeles

Courtesy of the Getty Center.

Courtesy of the Getty Center.

As the Getty Center turns 25 this spring, its central garden is cooler than ever. It was designed by American artist Robert Irwin – a key figure in the West Coast Light and Space movement – amidst 86 landscaped acres. Sculpture terraces featuring works by Alexander Calder, Barbara Hepworth and Isamu Noguchi adjoin trellises of bougainvillea and a cascading stone waterfall in a maze of azaleas. Irwin created the 134,000 square foot garden as an intimate space within the larger site architected by Richard Meier – or, as he put it, as “a sculpture in the form of a garden aspiring to be l ‘art”. With over 500 varieties of plants (including Blue Irises, Red Buds and Golden Celebration Roses) selected to enhance the seasonal interplay of color and light, it is indeed a living work of art. . Irwin’s philosophy – which applies as much to the architectural installations as it does to this garden – is spelled out in a stepping stone inscription: “Always changing, never the same twice.”

by Jacques Majorelle Majorelle GardenMarrakech, Morocco

© Majorelle Garden Foundation.

© Majorelle Garden Foundation.

Nearly 100 years ago, French Orientalist painter Jacques Majorelle bought a large palm grove in Marrakech, where he then commissioned architect Paul Sinoir to build him an Art Deco studio. The walls, as it should be, have been painted in an electric and patented “Majorelle Blue”. Over four decades, Majorelle cultivated a lush garden on the property like a living work of art, complete with a sanctuary for endemic birds, a collection of rare plants from his travels around the world, and fountains and cacti. alot. After the artist’s death in 1962, Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent acquired and restored the site, opening a museum dedicated to Berber culture in Majorelle’s former studio. Jardin Majorelle is now part of the Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent Foundation; sitting next to the Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech Museum, the garden is home to a memorial to the French couturier.

by Claude Monet Gardens in GivernyFrance

© House and Gardens Claude Monet Giverny - rights reserved.

© House and Gardens Claude Monet Giverny – rights reserved.

While Claude Monet cultivated flower and water gardens in front of his house in Normandy – diverting an arm of the Epte to create ponds where he sowed water lilies flanked by willows – the gardens in turn helped cultivate his creativity. . It is here that the father of French impressionism was inspired to paint his famous series of “Water Lilies”. Monet would invite friends, including artists Auguste Rodin and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and collector Kojiro Matsukata, to admire his ever-changing flower show. Together, they strolled along the nasturtium-strewn central walkway beside the “paint box” flowerbeds and gazed at the water garden from the wisteria-adorned Japanese-style bridge. As Monet wrote to the art critic Gustave Geffroy in June 1890, “I try again to capture those things which are impossible to capture”. The gardens reopen for the season on April 1, with a pink explosion of crabapple and cherry blossoms.

by Frida Kahlo Casa AzulMexico City, Mexico

Photo: Daniel Sambraus / Contributor via Getty Images.

Photo: Daniel Sambraus / Contributor via Getty Images.

For most of her life, Frida Kahlo had her home as well as her studio in Mexico City at Casa Azul. So named for the color of its walls, the Blue House was made all the more striking by the lush greenery directly outside – a shaded oasis of prickly pear cacti palms, canna lilies and colorful Mexican native plants that Kahlo has nurtured herself, inspiring her artwork as well as her bougainvillea wreaths. Archive footage shows Kahlo relaxing in the garden, surrounded by native flora and fauna (domestic monkeys and parrots, orange and pomegranate trees).

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