The blooms you can trust: the wacky weeds of the Saturday Review gardens


They always go well: such a healthy installation with a plethora of surface decoration, the elements appear to animate the air as much as they do the plant. At times there can be a rush of sunlight across the surface or an artful eruption of berries as the gardener makes a secret ploy to attract insects, good insect at that – why not provide an attractive food source to attract insects?


They get high praises from gardeners. One commented on the attractiveness of the branches themselves – they created a “crystal like effect” that was not merely pretty but “memorable.” Another praised the “pretty bowl shape” of the flowers and noted how useful those curlicues looked along a fence, or around a door – this outdoor garden is an effort to create usable shelter for household belongings (is there any room more archaic than that door at the end of the hall?)


This organic display gained the ire of gardeners who reckon vegetation is the antithesis of contemporary art. “It is unfashionable and violent. It does no good, not even for charity. There is no beauty in such work,” said one, another added, “I am fed up with people destroying things and speaking badly about art. We do too much of that.” This particular work celebrated all types of green and provided a nice mix of low maintenance. Good for independent, functional gardens and, indeed, for those without an herbaceous border.


The maker, Laurence Jones, said in a statement, “I’ve never wanted to ask people to sit in a church and look at what is in front of them, I thought it would be interesting to try and do something that was not quite so simple. In this case my work uses art to enhance the aesthetics of the landscape – we are very lucky that the ability to divide a space into a pew and a flowerbed allows us to do this in some beautiful ways. The pews are made from broken spades and ladders. Each stool uses a marble hook taken from a toilet bowl; the taps and radiators are from a new age hospice. Each bag of rocks is carved by a skilled craftsman; the table was removed from a restaurant; the benches were made of plastic used by the record company Virgin.

“The work is good for those types of gardens that have no lawn, people that have little idea of what plants to plant. There are no false perceptions, none of the usual fashion and simplistic thought about art. It is very much garden practice, a collaboration between artist and gardening, with gardeners experimenting and playing with strange materials. The spaces and people inside are also an example of a traditional structure; empty like the sanctuary and yet somehow filled and evolving. What a miracle when nature and grace intersect.”

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