Elizabeth Peyton’s “Leonardo, February 2013”
Amid the fanfare, pomp, circumstance and jazz hands of the recent adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” the film’s leading man hosted a charity auction last night in conjunction with the art house magnate Christie’s. “The 11th Hour Charity Auction,” supported by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, featured 33 donated works of art (many of them tiger-themed) which in total garnered an unprecedented $38.5 million dollars for wildlife conservation efforts. Encouraged by DiCaprio to “bid as if the fate of the planet depends on us,” works from artists Elizabeth Peyton, Robert Longo, Mark Grotjahn, Richard Prince and others were all generously purchased in support of the environmental effort. As DiCaprio noted: “Nature is abundant and it is resilient, but we have to take action now to protect our planet before it’s too late.” Looks like Gatsby’s green light may have inspired more than just romance.
For details on the auction, visit here.
Purple Orach from Wild Garden Seeds
If you are growing food and flowers, take a moment to consider your seeds- how were they developed? where do they come from? Are they treated, untreated? What is the different between OP, F1 and GMO, really? All plants go from seed, well- to seed. The selecting, saving, sharing and sowing of them is highly valuable work.
In the world of seeds, Frank Morton, and his Wild Garden project is nothing short of heroic. As their statement reads: All of our seed is Organically Grown at Gathering Together Farm along the winding Marys River on the edge of Philomath, Oregon. All of this seed is open pollinated, untreated, germ and vigor tested in living soil mix, and well cleaned. Most stock seed for our crop production have been reselected under stress and disease pressure in our breeding nurseries at GTF and Shoulder to Shoulder Farm, five miles upriver in the colder dry foothills of the Oregon Coast Range. Many of the of these varieties originated in our on farm breeding program for organic conditions and improved fresh market quality. These are denoted by our farm-original mark . Other varieties have come to us over twenty years as heirlooms or reliable commercial standards, now with generations of selection on the farm. Our ecological approach to plant breeding and crop protection generates superior strains and varieties for farmers who don’t use chemical crop protectants and fertilizers. The small-scale care and authentic fertility of our production fields yield fat seed with exceptional seedling vigor, a key trait for organic crop success.
When I first learned about Wild Garden, I was immediately turned on by their philosophy and approach.Perhaps more importantly, however, I quickly discovered that the seeds speak for themselves. Morton’s basic arugula is my gold standard. His Purple Osaka grows with muscular strength and the taste of wasabi. Wild Garden’s lettuce mix – the company’s original offering – stays speckled, vibrant and tender even in desert heat. And I suppose that is the point. The success I have experienced with their varieties, does indeed, inspire me to save the seed from that sweetest head of lettuce and the deepest hued Osaka leaf. Regardless, though, of whether or not you’re interested in saving seed, Wild Garden is a superior source for growing inspiration and high quality varietals.
To learn more – and purchase seed – visit Wild Garden Seed
Listen to Frank Morton describe the relationship between humanity, agriculture and seeds here
Maria Loboda, Smoking Room in a private Palais in Brussels, as seen from entrance, 1905 (2013) Commissioned and produced by Frieze Projects New York 2013 Frieze New York 2013 Photograph by John Berens Courtesy John Berens/ Frieze
We’ve long been fans of the brainy, beautiful work of Polish-born, Berlin and London-based artist Maria Loboda (b. 1979), and the way plants dominate her world with both unsettling wildness and teasing formality. For example, in her 2012 sculpture This Work Is Dedicated to an Emperor, Loboda installed 20 cypress trees in the Baroque-era Karlsaue Park in Kassel, Germany. The stands of trees, in bright orange pots, were marched weekly through the park grounds, assuming mysterious arrangements inspired by Roman military strategy and Macbeth’s moving forest.
As Loboda recently told Wilder, “Nature is a very graceful artistic material to work with, because the form is already beautiful and you can take it and transform it into something a bit more disturbing or awakening. You can’t change the form. You can only play with the content.” Loboda’s art is less cultivated than the long-haul contraptions found in the common museum “sculpture garden:” “I like it when outdoor artworks clearly belong outdoors.” We couldn’t wait to check out her newest work, coinciding with the fitful return of spring to northern, urban climes. It’s one of five commissioned Frieze Projects taking over New York’s Randall’s Island from May 10 to 13 during the Frieze Art Fair.
For her installation, Loboda created a garden replica of an early-twentieth-century Wiener Werkstätte color plate image, Smoking Room in a Private Palais in Brussels, within the island’s green geography. Working with local gardeners and florists (Otto Keil of Long Island’s N & O Horticultural Products, nearly a century in the business), Loboda meticulously chose plants based on their seasonal availability and suitability and, of course, their colors. In translating a flat interior image to a living arrangement, Loboda consulted landscape architect friends and historical sources; see below for more on the fascinating development of color-coded gardening. Her smoking garden mixes indoors and out, sight and scent (via a perfume abstraction of tobacco made with the Fragrance Foundation and Swiss company Firmenich), and is more intimate yet less domesticated than, say, Jeff Koons’s wonderful giant topiary Puppy.
“As it’s still early in the year, some of the plants didn’t reach the size I wanted or the color wasn’t exactly right, but it was very exciting to go through all the possible shades and hues,” Loboda says. Viewers will find specimens of Ajuga, Agapanthus, Azalea, Zantedeschia and Coleus Dark Star, in the white, dark blue and black palette of Loboda’s original image. Actual dirt labor on the site began a couple weeks ago: laying out the garden, preparing the turf, planting and so forth, with the help and guidance of the Randall’s Island crew, who will tend to the installation during the Fair’s long weekend. “The best part was working directly with the flowers,” Loboda says, and since her lovely, strange garden won’t remain after Frieze leaves town (go see it now!), she says, “I hope we can donate the flowers to a nice place.”
Maria Loboda’s Inspiration and Further Reading:
Loboda’s work makes you seek out meanings and roots. Here are some Wilder-friendly directions her project took us:
1. For Frieze, Loboda looked at groundbreaking texts of color codification, including American ornithologist Robert Ridgway’s 1912 Color Standards and Color Nomenclature (still in use by birders) and the French Chrysanthemum Society’s 1905 Répertoire de Couleurs.
2. Related to this development, color-coded gardening and the use of color in planting to achieve optical effects was popularized by influential English horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll, whose work Loboda also read. Home gardeners suddenly became keen to re-create precise landscapes by ordering exact hues of flowers from catalogs.
3. It’s fitting that Loboda’s living artwork, based on a Wiener Werkstätte smoking room–that obsolete interior form–will be dismantled after Frieze. Her floral glories are gathered for a brief, four-day season: “I have always been very impressed by the Werkstätte’s intransigence in material choices and the fact that they went bankrupt partly due to this very quality.”
4. In addition to her cypress tree chess game, botany has reared its troubling head in past Loboda works like Ah, Wilderness (2010) (sculpture that imagines what happens when branches of “monocultural” trees such as white pine, cedar, walnut, and birch meet) and A Guide to Insults and Misanthropy (2006), once volatile, now neutered bouquets bringing together the worst invectives of Victorian flower language.
See Maria Loboda’s Smoking Garden this weekend at Frieze Art Fair today through Monday. Friday, May 10: 11am–7pm; Saturday, May 11: 11am–7pm; Sunday, May 12 : 11am–7pm; Monday, May 13: 11am–6pm
Text by Phyllis Fong
For all our West Coast readers, why not celebrate Mom with a trip to the Echo Park Craft Fair? Wilder friends Agnes Baddoo, Kathleen Whitaker, Dream Collective and Moon Canyon Flowers will all be present to brighten up your weekend and make Mom feel just that much more special. Card optional.
When it comes to understanding container gardening, my old boss came up with a saying I like to use: ‘first you thrill, then you spill.‘ I think it gets at two of the most crucial elements to crafting a real whizzbanger of a pot quite nicely. Here’s three great tips for making a great garden container:
1. Height: Height is part of the ‘thrill’ element of a pot. You need something eye catching. A colorful, vivid, imposing ‘je ne sais quoi’ to firmly establish the pot’s presence in the world. Choose foliage over flowers for this part of the display- something that will give you volume and bulk. A great summer choice are canna lilies, as is woodland tobacco, or a big plume of elephant ears.
2. Stuffing: This is what goes along the edges of the pot and gets crammed in in every available blank space. No bare patches allowed. Feel free to choose 1-3 different annuals to make it interesting, but don’t select anything that will compete with the size of your background anchor plant. Something with lacy, differently colored foliage that stands out, like any of the wormwoods, is a good choice here. You can’t go wrong with coleus, either. Even something like coral bells is great for stuffing- the airy flowers it produces midsummer add another element to the mix, too. I like to use some of the salvias here. Don’t be afraid to step it up a notch on the color and texture. This is the layer to do it with.
3. Spill: My favorite part, this is where you can get buck-wild messy. Lantana is a failsafe for full sun and it comes in a myriad of tropical popsicle colors. Million bells is good in the same way. For shade, sweet potato vine is tenacious and brilliantly lime-green or purple, however you want it. And if you’re looking for an upward climber, try moonflower- it blooms at night!
While you’re at it, don’t forget the golden rule of container gardening: water, water, water.
Image by Helen O’Donnell