Keeyla Meadows: The garden as art

Keeyla Meadows’ garden in Albany, California – would you be this brave with colour?

Oh, my! The sensory overload of Summer 2013. We have so many wonderful gardens to share with you, it’s been hard to know where to begin. We should have been blogging all summer but, as you can see, we were barely here. If you travel to San Francisco, around Ireland, to Quebec City, La Malbaie or Montreal, keep your eyes peeled for our best intentions littered by the wayside.

So here we go with a great way to emerge: the bright, boisterous, beautiful garden of artist Keeyla Meadows. Meadows is also a garden designer who transforms gardens into living art pieces. Do click that link, but take our short pictorial tour first. Then think a bit about colour. How brave are you?

Metal is one of Meadows’ many media. We could talk long about the symbolism in her garden gate. For now focus on the verdigris finish (blue-green of weathered copper) which complements the hot colours yet harmonizes with the garden greens.
The artist’s garden is an outdoor gallery for works like these, which her website describes as large fruit but I first saw as breasts. Note the verdigris again. This time a mottling of leaf green matches the spray of lilies beside it.
Order in seeming disarray: The bench coordinates with the siding, while the pot is anchored to the colours of the floor. Reds tie the floor, bench and walls together.
Between the entry courtyard and back garden is one of Meadows’ sculptural “art-ches”.
Plants colour-matched with mosaics or paints are not coincidental. Leaves and flowers are more of Meadows’ many media.
Our tendency is to go for softer shades in, well, shade. Instead, Meadows heats up a shady spot, pairing acid yellow and purple, splashed with magenta and teal. The square pavers are glass, and even the gravel seems to be selected, pebble by pebble, for its purple hue.
A closeup of the planter seen in the background of the image above.
The artist herself, as colourful as her garden.
In the glare of early afternoon here, it’s difficult to distinguish the component parts. From above, this relatively small garden becomes an abstract in colour. The experience inside the space is quite different. Your eye is drawn to one cool vignette after another, each with a bold colour palette that has you gasping with pleasure at the combinations…
… and the little surprises. Not UNsurprisingly, Meadows’ latest book is called Fearless Color Gardens: The Creative Gardener’s Guide to Jumping off the Color Wheel. Looks like an inspiring read, if you’re thinking of going a little bolder. It’s available at the Toronto Public Library should you want to try before you buy.


  1. Wowsers! That is some brilliant, wonderful color pairings. I really like how she considers it as one piece but has the attention to detail to create vignettes within the garden. Thank you for sharing your visit.

    1. Jane, I wish I could show you my whole photo set of that garden. Some of the flowers were astonishingly well mixed — like paints on a canvas. I don't know if I'd have the patience, let alone the skill.

  2. What a nice job you did capturing this garden…the conditions were not the best for getting nice photos. I always hope for overcast when I visit here, but I'm usually doomed to disappointment.

    1. Thanks, KS. Our San Francisco visit was unusually sunny, they tell me. It's hard to get good shots with those blasted-out colours and sharp shadows.

    1. I'd like to think it's California with its Mediterranean climate that makes it possible. But then I think of those colourful Nordic houses. It is definitely an art.

  3. Great shots of a truly memorable garden … part of me wants to experiment with using color that freely and exuberantly … the other part suspects I'd find it overwhelming to live with on a day to day basis. I admire her for being so fearless!

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