I love attending garden tours and shows. This past summer, I was entranced by a garden called “The Night Sky” at a garden show. (See my last post with pictures from the Chelsea Flower Show.)
As soon as I saw “The Night Sky” garden, I couldn't wait to share with Almanac readers. Some of you may recall our story, “Create an Astronomical Garden,” from The 2012 Old Farmer's Almanac.
Not only might you all appreciate the earth and sky theme, but I think many of us feel that the best gardens get us closer to nature, not farther away; this garden does just that …
Night Sky Garden Pictures
One of this garden's themes is the spiraling Milky Way and, though it's difficult to show in a picture, there are cobblestone paths that swirl outward from a central area. To some viewers, it seemed star-shaped.
An oak and glass structure features a spiral staircase up to a roofstop to view the night sky.
I loved the armillary sphere sculpture—which reminds me of the one on the lawn in the middle of our own Almanac parking lot!
Below is a photo of the Almanac Sun sculpture which was created in the 1950s and actually casts a shadow on the inside of the rings to indicate the time. View this sphere “live” through our Almanac Web Cam!
Fortunately, I arrived so early that the designers' mother and father were there and actually let me step inside their creation! Their sons, Harry and David Rich from Rich Lanscapes, are the young designers. Their garden is inspired by the dark skies of the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales, one of only five International Dark Sky Reserves in the world—perfect for discovering the wonders of the night sky.
As I walked further into The Night Sky garden, silver birch trees create a glistening canopy that leads to a grassy bowl for stargazing. I can imagine wandering down the cobblestone path as it opens up to the twinkling stars and shooting meteors against the black velvetyness of space.
Boulders representing meteorites are scattered throughout the garden, giving it a sense of gravity. Two reflecting circular pools represent black holes, mirroring the sky above.
Of course, this garden is designed to be enjoyed in the daytime, too! Soft, swirling flowers such as white foxglove, starlight, misty lace, and white cloud echo the starry night. The naturalistic planting is dominated by white with hues of blues, purples, and oranges echoing the path of the Milky Way. As you walk through the landscape, it sets a tranquil feeling with a sense of wonder.
I loved the oak studio! The glass panes gave it an indoor/outdoor feeling. The designers let me climb up the spiral staircase to the rooftop.
The rooftop was even fitted with a telescope to view the night sky. Their father informed me that this brass telescope was from Philadelphia —and said welcomed any information about it as he bought it online. I noticed that the maker of the telescope was “Queen-Gray Company” and after a little research, discovered that this company was founded in 1850 and specialized in scientific equipment.
What happens to these show gardeners after the show is over? As garden designers, the Rich brothers aim to raise awareness of light pollution and planned to relocate their garden—complete with oak studio—-to a college dedicated to students with autism. Not only could the pupils explore the stars but they could also enjoy the sensory aspects of gardens. The brothers said, “It offers a naturalistic, calm environment where children can learn about both the landscape around them and the wonders of the night sky.”
So, what did YOU think of the Night Sky Garden? Did you “Ooh!” and “Aah!”? Please share your comments below! I’d love to hear what you think!
Telescopes and Binoculars
Coincidentally, our own Almanac General Store just started carrying stargazing equipment this month! Looking for that perfect gift? Click to check out the telescopes and binoculars as well as Handheld GPS and Compasses.
If you'd like some tips on how to buy a telescope and stargazing equipment, check out this new telescope buying guide by Jeff DeTray (who kindly contributes our monthly Sky Map charts).
The Almanac Glorious Garden Tour!
Did you know: The Old Farmer's Almanac is planning its first garden tour in June of 2015! Who better than the Almanac to take you to some truly extraordinary gardens within the United States? Click here to peek at the Glorious Garden Tour itinerary!