7 Delightful Gardens Designed by Famous Artists

Photo Credit: Shambhavipriyam CC BY-SA 3.0

Gardening has been around since the beginning of time.

Well, not exactly, but since our prehistoric ancestors began removing and arranging the surrounding foliage to improve their living areas. Since then, identifying and protecting preferred plant species, while controlling less desirable ones, has helped improve environments and provide food.

As civilizations emerged, so did aesthetic landscaping. Beautiful, formal gardens were planned and maintained to show wealth and social status. In the 1800s and 1900s, many artists, in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, took to gardening for the pure artistry of it. They used gardening as inspiration and as subjects in their paintings.

Here are seven famous artists who designed some of the most enchanting spaces in the world.

1. Frida Kahlo, Mexico City

Kahlo lived her entire life in her beautiful Mexican home called Casa Azul, or The Blue House. The central courtyard was filled with folk art, native plants, fruit trees and cacti, which found their way into her paintings.

2. Claude Monet, Givenchy

Monet’s water gardens were filled with lilies in the Japanese style trending across Europe in the 1800s. He drew so much inspiration from his flowers, he frequently painted the garden’s bright irises and chrysanthemums for which he became best known.

3. Jacques Majorelle, Marrakech

In 1923, French artist Majorelle moved to the warmer climate of Morroco to improve his health. For the next 40 years, he cultivated a beautiful garden filled with exotic plants from around the globe and even trademarked his own blue paint, called Majorelle Blue.

4. Robert Irwin, Los Angeles

Artist Robert Irwin started out as a painter in Abstract Expressionism, but moved on to, and excelled in, California’s Light and Space movement. He is most famous for designing Getty’s Central Garden.

5. Adam Purple, New York City

Purple was a sculptor living in a tenement on the Lower East Side when he realized that the neighborhood kids didn’t have a clean, pretty place to play. He removed the garbage from their former playground and installed his Garden of Eden, complete with fruit trees and vegetable plants.

Eventually the city razed it for more housing.

6. Emil Nolde, Seebull

German Expressionist Emil Nolde and his wife mixed sand and peat with the hard soil to start a beautiful garden that included a path in the shape of their initials. Nolde happily recreated the bright flowers on canvases until the Nazi’s declared him a degenerate and banned him from painting.

7. Mary Mattingly, New York City

Mattingly’s contribution to the public artworks scene is a 5,000 square-foot barge floating in the East River, called Swale. On it are edible plants that highlight how urban farming can relieve food deserts. Visitors to the barge are welcome to forage for fruits and vegetables.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Artists like these have long recognized flowers, plants and trees as works of art in their own right. Their gardens have certainly provided joy and wonder to nature and art lovers the world over, despite that the gardens’ original purposes may have been inspiration for the artists themselves.

But, undeniably, these artists’ visions for outdoor spaces came to be as famous and beloved as their paintings of them.