The Floating Flower Garden

Floating Flower Garden, by teamLab (2015)

Spring is here, even though there is still snow on the ground and the trees are bare in many locations. To help get you in the spirit, here is a glimpse of Floating Flower Garden, a gallery installation by TeamLab, a Japanese art collective. (Check out their other work, it’s all amazing.)

Over 2,300 flowers are suspended from the ceiling, and as the visitor walks through the garden, the flowers rise upwards, creating a dome of space. The scent of the flowers is constantly changing as well, as each scent increases when the flower’s partner-insect is most active in the wild. It is currently on display at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo.

More images and information here. Happy Spring!


Floating Flower Garden, by teamLab (2015)
Floating Flower Garden, by teamLab (2015)

The Groundskeeper’s Daughter – ethereal music from the garden

The Groundskeeper's Daughter, by Dolls Come to LifeNature has inspired music throughout history, from Vivaldi to modern-day art installations. The duo Dolls Come to Life explore the theme of a garden on their new album The Groundskeeper’s Daughter, a series of experimental songs and soundscapes. The results are haunting, evocative, and eerily beautiful.

Dolls Come To Life are singer/songwriter Michelle Cross and experimental musician Joe Frawley. Their first album Dolls Come To Life was inspired by interior spaces — a child’s bedroom, attic, etc. Their new album is inspired by the outdoors, particularly the old fashioned gardens of Victorian literature. But these are not cheerful songs of sunshine and flowers, they evoke misty moors, haunted walls, and creeping vines. There’s an eerie thread of melancholy that runs through these tracks, as though the ghost of Mary Lennox has come back to roam the forgotten paths of her secret garden.

The track “Across the Moor”, as Joe Frawley explains, “was the result of a multi-tracked improvisation Michelle did over a drone I provided.” Much of their music evolves this way, improvising over each other’s tracks to see what comes out. The duo works long-distance, exchanging files over the internet, but their sounds blend seamlessly.

The song “Wake Up, Wake Up” features a chorus of flowers singing of their life through the seasons, while a girl sits on the ivy wall listening:

Come if you want, follow us down into the ground,
into the brown earth where we all are listening.
And when the wind comes whispering that it is spring then we begin,
making our way up shivering.

One can imagine the title character, the groundskeeper’s daughter, exploring this strange world and discovering its hidden corners. More than a collection of songs, this album creates a sonic world in the imagination, and listeners can create their own stories inspired by it.

You can sample the whole album here on their website.

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Stop-motion on the other side of the woods

On The Other Side Of The Woods by Anu-Laura Tuttelberg

Anu-Laura Tuttelberg is an animator from Estonia who works in stop-motion, a medium that is all the more compelling in this digital world of computer animation. Her latest film, being released this year, is called On The Other Side Of The Woods, and it uses imagery from nature that is stark and compelling.

As she describes the story, “a clay doll awakens her surroundings that become a surreal world in constant flow of change.” What I find so unique about this film, as seen in the trailer below, is the use of real elements from nature — plants, dirt, water — animated in ways that are both eerie and strangely comforting. Also wonderful is the use of natural light, which flows over the scene in unpredictable ways that make the whole environment seem alive. The viewer discovers this strange yet familiar world even as the character does.

The film is being released in festivals this year. Her first animated film was called Fly Mill (“Kärbeste veski”) which was her graduation film at Estonian Academy of Arts in 2013. You can see more of her work at her website.

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Teisel pool metsa / On the Other Side of the Woods TRAILER from Anu-Laura Tuttelberg on Vimeo.


On The Other Side Of The Woods by Anu-Laura Tuttelberg




On The Other Side Of The Woods by Anu-Laura Tuttelberg

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A floating forest on the freeway

Urban Air, by sculptur Stephen Glassman

Usually when an art and nature intersect, the work of art depicts or recreates the natural world, and is displayed indoors far from its subject. Sculptor Stephen Glassman uses the natural world to create art in public places, bringing art, audience and nature together for a shared experience. He designs giant sculptures using bamboo and inspired by natural forms, inserting nature into urban settings in ways that are surprising and dramatic. You can see some of his amazing works here and here.

Now he is embarking on a project to convert billboards into living bamboo gardens. Urban Air is the name of this new venture, and he has started a Kickstarter campaign to produce the first prototype in Los Angeles. He will also produce a system kit so that other unused billboards can be likewise transformed into floating gardens around the country.

Watch the video to learn more about this amazing project, or visit the official site.

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A glimpse at my own untended garden


About once a year I take a break from my usual postings here to show you a peek into my own garden, which is almost as untended as this website.

One of my favorite things about having a garden is seeing all the insects that come to visit — the honeybees, bumblebees, dragonflies, crickets, beetles, spiders, green leaf hoppers, butterflies, ladybugs, ants, and many more. These are the unseen foundation of our ecosystem. Without a healthy insect population, everything else would fall apart, and I’m happy to provide them with a home for the summer.

I’ll leave you with a very short poem by that most prolific garden poet, who loved insects as much as (if not more than) people:

The Pedigree of Honey
Does not concern the Bee –
A Clover, at any time, to him,
Is Aristocracy –

Emily Dickinson

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Sweet Peas










The fantastical world of Benjamin Lacombe

L’Herbier des FéesNature stirs the imaginations of writers and artists. Benjamin Lacombe is a young artist from France whose work recalls that of Arthur Rackham and Brian Froud, but also dips into a spooky surrealism that is often unnerving and always compelling.

The images below are from his book L’Herbier des Fées, or The Herbarium of the Fairies, written in collaboration with Sebastien Perez (available in several languages, though not yet in English). It tells the story of a fictional Russian botanist who ventures into a strange forest searching for the secrets of immortality. The book is designed as a collection of his sketches, letters and photos, all meticulously illustrated by Lacombe. The influence of Leonardo Da Vinci is evident, from the brown ink studies to the chiaroscuro and classic poses of the characters. There is also an interactive version of the book, which you can see in the video below.

The pages of this book — and many of Lacombe’s books — overflow with imaginative creatures that often blur the lines between flora and fauna, between living and artificial. Some of the pages include die-cuts and transparent overlays to give added dimension to his mysterious world. His beautiful flowers and fairies often seem like they could devour us, even as we are fascinated by them. It is an amazing and unique vision that explores our fear of the natural world as much as our fascination with it.

L’Herbier des Fées
Artwork © by Benjamin Lacombe
L’Herbier des Fées
Artwork © by Benjamin Lacombe
L’Herbier des Fées
Artwork © by Benjamin Lacombe
L’Herbier des Fées
Artwork © by Benjamin Lacombe

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Here is a video trailer for the book and iPad app:

Here is a video about the making of the interactive book:

Here is another video about the making of the interactive book:

Here is his official blog with even more amazing artwork.

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The last rose of summer

September is flying past, and autumn begins this week. I took this photo of a rose in my yard yesterday, as it made one final salute to summer. Today, its petals are lying on the ground. It reminds me of the famous poem by Thomas Moore (1779 – 1852.)

‘Tis the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
To give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
From Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit,
This bleak world alone?

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Before we leave summer entirely, here are some photos I took of my garden over the past few months, showing its progress. It’s not a very big garden, and it grew a bit more wild than I anticipated, but it’s always inspiring to see plants grow and blossom in front of your eyes. It’s also fascinating to see all the insects who come to the garden and make it their home.

Luckily, this little fellow stayed outside the fence, and ate the weeds in the yard. Meanwhile, the garden will keep blooming until the first frost, when it will be time to dig it up until next year.

This also marks another milestone, it has been one year since I started this blog. It’s been fun exploring artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers who use nature in their work, and I’m looking forward to more interesting discoveries next year. So stick around!

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A bit of earth


There are few things that hold more promise than a fresh patch of garden, all ready to be planted. An empty garden in springtime is a lot like an empty page on which to write a story, or draw a picture, or pour out your soul. It is full of expectations, hopes and dreams, and can be intimidating too. It is a place where miracles happen, where something emerges that didn’t exist before, something brand new.

In the classic book The Secret Garden, orphaned Mary Lennox asks of her uncle, “Might I have a bit of earth?” She wants a patch of ground to “plant seeds in — to make things grow — to see them come alive.” Gardens have been used in art and literature for thousands of years because they are such powerful symbols, of life and death and creation and the human spirit. Gardens can be beautiful, or wild, or peaceful, or thorny. They can be secret, or showy, or scary, or poetic – just like the creations that come out of a blank piece of paper.

My own garden, seen above, will have zinnias, dahlias, marigolds and aster, and perhaps I will share some pictures when it is in full bloom. (That is, if the fellow below doesn’t eat them all!)