I swore I wasn't going to do it. A couple of years ago, after 17 years of involvement, I had "retired". This year, I was simply going to be in attendance at Nashville's annual Antiques & Garden Show. I would walk the floor, peruse the items, chat with old friends and maybe have a Bloody Mary or two. Then the phone call came. Cheekwood, our botanical garden where I started my Nashville career 19 years ago, needed an assist. I've never been able to say no to Cheekwood and to make matters worse, it was one of my best friends who made the call. How could I possibly say 'No'?
And so I found myself planted firmly in the middle not just of creating a garden, but creating THE garden that sits right at the main entrance to the show--the very first thing people see when they come in the door. It was time to pull out all the stops! I had done this garden one time before, but this year was different. For the first time in the 20-plus-year history of the show, Cheekwood was going to be front and center. They had to look good, and so did I. So it was that the Cheekwood garden staff and I set to work with my talented designer friend Phillipe Chadwick (a talented designer in his own right and the gardener in charge of Cheekwood's Color Garden, among other things) and I at the helm, creating the garden of Cheekwood's dreams. We hoped.
There were times when it was an uphill climb, but we made it. The first picture below is what the garden looked like at about noon on Monday and the rest are what it looked like at about the same time on Thursday, just a few hours before the show opened for the annual Patrons and Preview Parties.
Construction was well underway by noon on Monday, but the floower was still plywood, the reflecting pool still needed its liner and our "tree trunks" still needed to have their bark attached.
The same view of the garden at noon on Thursday!
Our amazing "grass people" created by Parisian artist Mathilde Roussel just for our garden at the Antiques & Garden Show.
Our "tree trunks" after they were full of flowers. These were created from cardboard sonotubes and cedar slabs with the bark still attached.
The theme of this year's show was "Collective Color" and each flower arrangement was created in a more or less monochromatic scheme to create a rainbow of color across the back of the garden.
The largest arrangement that Phillipe and I created was nearly 5 feet tall by 8 feet wide and stood atop a tree trunk that was 8 feet tall.
One of the favorite features of this year's garden were these antique gates that were donated to Cheekwood about 10 years ago. They have been fully refurbished and will now be prominently featured in the newly-renovated Howe Garden which will open later this spring.