In certain regards I'm glad that I didn't realize I was arriving at the NCBG while the 20th Annual Sculpture in the Garden show was taking place. I was able to experience the art in a natural setting without trying to read the plaques, assuming was that I could always take more time to learn about the individual pieces the next time I visited. Since I only had a limited amount of time, wandering through the garden in a haphazard way was perfect. I experienced the surprises which popped up around each twist and turn at a purely emotional level. I was blown away by how well the man made art fit into the natural environment. I think that's part of why it didn't register with me that this was a temporary show. The art seemed so at home in the garden. I hadn't been to the NC botanical garden in so long that I didn't know what to expect when I stopped by there on Thursday. I was initially blown away by the lovely paths, through interesting gates into different sections, with habitat gardens to represent the various growing conditions in NC. Although UNC is in the piedmont area of the state, the garden has managed to recreate habitats from the mountains and coastal areas as well as the piedmont. I live in the triangle area of NC (U.S.) which includes the research triangle park, as well as three towns each with a major university (NCSU in Raleigh, UNC in Chapel Hill, and Duke in Durham). Although each town has it's own history and identity, at this point people often live in one place and commute to another for work.
I'm amused that Raleigh-Durham has even become a name people outside this area use as if it's one town. The reason I'm bringing this up is that it might seem odd as much as I love gardens and gardening that it has been decades since I've been to the NCBG. Part of the reason for that is that I am very fortunate to live in a place with lots of gardens. The NCSU JC Raulston Arboretum is another extensive garden and is a short drive from my house. The Raleigh Little Theatre Rose Gardens are also nearby as is the NC Art Museum which has an outdoor art walk and includes some nice plantings. Then there are the Duke Gardens which are not too far from me in Durham. The NCBG has been calling out to me every time I've gone for a surgical oncology appointment for the past two and a half years. Although it's one of the least convenient gardens for me to go to in my extended geographical vicinity (meaning the triangle area), it happens to be across the highway from where I go for surgical oncology check ups. I remember when I went for my initial consultation with my UNC doc, I noticed the signs for the medical campus and the signs for the botanical gardens were lumped together. I thought to myself, I haven't been to the NCBG in ages, I'll have to go there some time soon. Soon turned into two and a half years but last week I finally made it there on my way home from my check up and I even had the foresight to take my camera.
I wish the light had been more cooperative but the pictures in this post at least give an idea of what I experienced during my short side trip on my way home from the doctor's visit. In terms of nature's show I was was blown away by the seed capsules of "heart's a bursting" (euonymous americanus) which are currently one of the stars, at least to me, in terms of showy plants in the gardens. The photo above is a closeup of the seed capsule. The photo below is a wider view of the plant. I love how naturally the habitat gardens meander from one section to the other but in order to adequately photograph them, I'd have to have greater skill. I actually think I'd also need to be hovering overhead in a helicopter, hanging by my toes out the door while snapping pictures.
The sections of the garden form an interesting contrast. You follow one path and you feel like you are in the mountains, at least in terms of the vegetation, and you follow another path and you could be on the outer banks. I also like the way the art was positioned to become an unexpected surprise, nestled happily into the landscape. I have already posted some of the surprises in prior posts but I'll include links here to their enlargements. Since I didn't take notes I don't know the actual names of the art but lady of the garden works for me, for that one. Another figure I loved and used in my photohunt post this week, has been nicknamed, goddess or angel of originality , by me. I also already posted the picture I took of the Paul Green cabin which is in the mountain habitat garden.I should have been clued in that something out of the ordinary was going on because of the sheer volume of art. Later on when I did research at home and discovered that all of the art wasn't a permanent feature of the garden, I was amazed to see that 70 individual pieces of art by North Carolina artists were being featured as part of this show. I think part of what threw me off was that the art is so well incorporated into the garden that it's still hard for me to believe that it's temporary. Some of the art may be permanent and I'll have to go back after the show is over to know for sure what's part of the show and what's a permanent part of the garden.
In some ways the impermanence of the art adds to its charm. When I researched the art, after I got home, and saw that it was a temporary show and each fall there is a new crop of art which is incorporated into the garden from mid September to mid November; I liked the imagery of the art as part of the garden's crop of pleasures. Of course I didn't have a clue when I was wandering through the garden, taking a path that appealed to me and on to the next assuming that later I could go back and learn more about the art. All I could find out online is there is a jury and the art is judged with certain pieces winning awards. I couldn't find a list of this year's art. I did find past year's winners. Given the diversity of the art, I find it hard to see how it can be judged one piece against the other. Also, as I said, I have no idea if all the ones I photographed are actually part of the show.
I am pretty sure the colorful figure in the picture above is part of the show but the herb garden which contains this seating area has a lot of permanent figures. Children are encouraged to look for the faeries nestled in with the herbs. There again, I found out about that after I got home and started reading about the evolution of the NCBG. Otherwise I would have been sure to find a few faeries willing to be photographed as I tend to look for faeries and wood nymphs in my garden at home.
I don't regret that I wandered through the garden oblivious that the art was temporary and wouldn't be there at my next visit. Aren't gardens always like that anyway? They evolve with new plants and changes and that's part of the charm of a garden. However, I do wish that the light had cooperated and that my skill was better for photographing sections of a landscape.