Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Art Deco

Back in March we quoted for the garden maintenance of an Art Deco property. It's a stunning building, with potentially very attractive grounds. Alas, we were unsuccessful on that occasion, but received a lovely letter informing us that we were being kept on file 'in case'.

About a month ago we were contacted by the owners once more, as the 'in case' was now active so to speak. They had decided to take us on after all, as things weren't progressing quite to their satisfaction. The garden is new, but has been planted and designed by a building company from what we can tell of the planting done so far, and so with things now maturing, there are large areas that just don't look right, or are far to overcrowded.

The New Place

Although the Art Deco period, particularly the buildings, is a favourite of mine, I came to realise that although I have seen many gardens of Art Deco properties, I couldn't picture in my minds eye what the definitive style garden for the period would look like. We plan to carry out re-planting at the property to make the garden 'tie in' with the building a little more.......but what style to aim at? What is an Art Deco garden?

There are individual designers that have created gardens etc in an Art Deco style, and while some are a little pointless and complicated in my mind, such as the cubist garden at the Villa Noailles in France.....

.....others, like The Blue Steps at Naumkeag by Fletcher Steele. are both exquisite and practical.

I have come across design after design, all linked either tenuously or closely to the theme that is Art Deco. Some designers would appear to be trying too hard, such as the garden below, and as is so often the case have included far too much in an attempt to make a name for themselves. The pond and water feature would have been enough, the rest is just too distracting.

And so I pictured the Art Deco apartment blocks in London, and tried to remember how their gardens were laid out, and it became clear that while there are exceptions, most have very simple patterns indeed. Some might say that they resemble 1950's suburbia, with their lawns and trimmed hedges and shrubs, and they would be right I suppose.

Although not always the case, more often than not properties and gardens in this style, when viewed from ground level, have straight lines both horizontally and vertically. However, when viewed from the air, curves can be seen. Tightly clipped hedges mirror the clean lines of the building.

The New Place

The residents want our input over the coming year to bring the garden up together, and make it as much of a feature as the building itself. They also want much more colour introducing, and so challenging times are ahead. Exciting times ahead. Tiring times ahead!


  1. I adore art deco... And what an absolutely lovely building.....i always thought that deco gardens were all lawn..what do i know

  2. Wow, this is really a neat property to take on. I'm sure you'll do just fine with your experience, plus you will learn more and grow in your knowledge with this project.

    Enjoy ~ FlowerLady

  3. Gary,
    Now you have posed a true conundrum. Now I am by no means a professional in the matter, but I have never heard, read etc. of Art Deco as a gardening/landscape style. As I try to think of all the Art Deco architecture I have seen over the year I don’t recall the landscaping actually jump out, it seems to have always played a supporting role for the architecture of the building.

    This is one of those jobs that I am both envious and not so envious of your task at hand. Please keep us updated as to “every” detail, time permitting of course, I know you are busy. But I would love to see your thought process on this one. And then it’s execution, because personally when I think of Art Deco I think of buildings, furniture, jewelry, landscaping does not come to mind at all. – G

  4. A puzzle for you to ponder before you work. I really like those blue steps in the one garden you shared. Can't wait to see what you come up with.