Today I’m excited to share with you the beauty of the Chihuly Garden and Glass in winter.
It’s been a whopper of a winter, and while I’m not complaining, I must say, I’m feeling pretty starved for garden tours right now.
Name a gardener that isn’t feeling this way, right? But finding a garden that’s glorious in the winter is no easy feat!
For those who aren’t familiar with this artist, the Chihuly Garden and Glass is an exhibition hall with several gallery spaces showcasing the work of world-renowned glass artist, Dale Chihuly.
In addition to the gallery, is a massive glass house conservatory which leads to a lush garden, where Dale’s art mingles with innovative plant groupings.
In my opinion, there’s something pretty magical about a winter garden done right.
It’s pretty easy to have a beautiful spring or summer garden, but winter is a whole different story.
Let’s get on with the tour!
When you first arrive, you’re led through different galleries within the museum, to ooh and aah over the unbelievable glass art installations.
And while I certainly appreciate the impressive glass creations, I’ll be honest – it was the word ‘Garden’ that drew me here in the first place.
After seeing how amazing his art was, I couldn’t wait to get outside to the garden.
To enter the garden, you first pass through this jaw-dropping 40-foot tall glasshouse, created as a homage to his lifelong love of conservatories.
Just outside of the glass walls are tantalizing views of the garden you’re about to visit.
I can’t think of a more fabulous way to transition from the museum to the garden!
While many of the plants were either deciduous or flat out nowhere to be seen (busy sleeping underground) Chihuly’s glass art brings this garden to LIFE.
This is a smaller garden, with a central path that meanders through beds anchored by several oversized and impressive art sculptures.
The winter season is traditionally a time to highlight subtle nuances that are often overlooked during spring and summer’s riot of color, texture, and scent.
But in this garden, there’s no such thing as subtle. Yet, at the same time, there is!
Without the distraction of the plants, the emphasis is, of course, on the glass art.
However slow down a bit, and you’ll begin to notice the strategic placement of garden within the garden beds.
You’ll see various echoes of color, texture, and form begin to emerge.
For example, in the bed below, see how the orange glass is perfectly placed to highlight the orange tones of the deciduous Paperbark Maples?
Look again, and you’ll notice the contrast as well, with the smooth glass intermingling with the peeling textures of the bark.
The moody black color of the mondo grass, below, is echoed with the black sculptures nestled nearby.
Take a look at the repetition and contrast happening in this bed.
The very vertical (and very red!) glass spires beautifully echo the upright shape of the yellow branches of the dogwood.
Yet the red glass provides plenty of contrast to the yellow branches, helping to add a jolt of excitement to this bed.
I love this installation of vibrant purple glass, entitled Neodymium Reeds, the best of all. The purple positively glows in the shady corners of this bed, helping to bring attention to the sculptural quality of the 500-year old Western cedar log.
And the cool, smoothness of the glass contrasts beautifully with the prickly texture of the mahonia that surrounds it.
I can only imagine what this looks like in the spring and summer, with hints of purple flowers planted throughout.
Repetition and contrast, repetition and contrast – the key to a breathtaking garden bed.
Of course, sometimes you want the art to stand out on its own as a focal point with no distractions of all.
Perfectly balanced on a bed of black mondo grass, with the red branches of the Japanese maple beyond, there’s no mistaking this glowing yellow orb, is there?
Or, the towering chartreuse and red ‘trees’ (below) which seem to dare you to walk by without noticing them.
Visiting a garden on a cold, drizzly winter day might seem to some, a less than exciting adventure.
But when the garden has this much thought and creativity running throughout, it can be a most exciting and memorable event!