Modern garden design: Bob Irwin's garden at the Getty

I have always been a fan of sunken gardens, and in the Getty garden in California there is a seriously ambitious sunken pool with a planting of azaleas in the manner of a water parterre. As a fine artist, Irwin's challenges were initially to marry the layout and public access of the garden with the existing Meyer building and then to learn how to paint in horticultural terms (there were years of trips to investigate plants combinations))).

The book that documents this project - in the links on the right- reports many interviews between the artist and the teams that helped him achieve his vision.

I was struck by this one quote, which talks about how Irwin dealt with the intimacy of colour and pattern in flowers in such a complex architectural space.

" How do you go from such a surround (building)? I started thinking about starting from geometry, from geometry to pattern,and pattern to texture: from the buildings out to the flower (petal, stalk)".

There is a specific sense of history in this garden, a modern aesthetic of materials, steel, stone, water, that perhaps tracks back to other more classical, yet strongly linked forms..see if you agree...

hadrian's villa, tivoli. Source:

To see more and to have a list of plants relating to the whole garden check out this good blog post by VULGARE, there's great photos and nice layouts...