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Gardening as an Artistic Medium

Updated on March 24, 2011

gardening and art

What is art, this question may be more difficult to answer than it appears. I have seen work advertised as art that is pretty but has nothing to say; works that would work well in my living room but seem out of place in an art gallery. Is a piece art because it hangs in a gallery or is it art because of what it took to create it.

The definition I like of art is simple, art is form and content. This translates into all art must consist of these two things.

When referring to form we are referring to:

- The elements of art,

- The principles of design

- The physical materials that the artist has used.

Form is thus concrete and can eb readily described, regardless of the art work in question.

Content is based in a concept or idea. Concept means

- what the artist meant to portray,

- what the artist actually managed to portray

- How the viewers responds to the intended and actual messages.

The elements (society, religion, politics, for example) that influenced the artist are also part of the content.

Plants are the materials the gardener works with and how they are arranged or planted as well as the underlying reasons the garden was created help determine whether gardening itself is an artistic medium.

Does form play a role in garden design? The elements of art are space, colour, shape, texture and form, for example. A garden design includes all these, how the gardener makes use of these elements determines how the work is received.

The principals of design are balance, proportion, rhythm, emphasis and unity. The principals are used to organize the elements and give meaning to the work.

Meaning takes us to content and what the gardener was attempting to say and how that was received by the viewers.

The materials the gardener/artist sues are alive and will change over time. A gardener requires a clear vision of what the finished work will look like before he or she plants the first seed.

Unlike other art mediums, gardens are works in time and space, and are always a work in progress; works that can be change by moving a plant or adding another one.

Gardening invites experimentation and participation. The garden may be collaboration in both design and implementation. In fact, even non-human partner can and indeed must share in the process if the plants are to thrive.

Gardening is a cooperative, challenging and rewarding medium that can engage the gardener/artist for a lifetime.

Still Life, Bob Ewing photo
Still Life, Bob Ewing photo


Submit a Comment

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    The garden in our new place is quite minimal but come Spring that will change. Thanks for dropping by.

  • tim-tim profile image

    Priscilla Chan 8 years ago from Normal, Illinois

    I love to see your garden:) I used to have one. I have some of the flowers in one of my hubs but now I called it a jungle, LOL.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome, thanks for dropping by.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

    I enjoyed reading this hub, Thank you.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    In the pound cake example would the passion be in the baking or the eating.

    brs, you are welcome, thank you both for dropping by.

  • brsmom68 profile image

    Diane Ziomek 8 years ago from Alberta, Canada

    Very nice Hub Bob...a new perspective on gardening. I had never considered it art before, but you make very valid points. Thank you!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 8 years ago

    Yep, gardening is a form of art alright. Actually anything you do with passion and creativity is art whether it is a novel that enlightens millions of people or a loaf of pound cake that fulfills one hungry man. :)