Best of show

Keeyla Meadows rethinks the garden
Kathleen N. Brenzel

When Keeyla Meadows designs display gardens at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, enchanted visitors hover around them like kids at a carousel, marveling at elements like strawberry-colored walls, striped pots, and giant crayon sculptures. "Her work is refreshing and humorous," says British landscape architect and garden design professor David Stevens, who, along with two other judges, awarded her garden Best of Show last year. "Filled with excitement and color. I've never seen anything like it."

Trained as a sculptor, Meadows uses vivid colors, bold shapes, and playful sculptures to make her gardens magical. "I want to inspire gardeners to mix imagination and art with garden materials," she explains, "to take art off the walls and move it into the garden." Her message is getting out: All-red borders, all-blue gardens, and other color-saturated landscapes are cropping up around the West. Now, Meadows shares her design secrets in her first book, Making Gardens Works of Art (Sasquatch Books, Seattle, 2002; $21.95; 800/775-0817), a treasure trove of ideas, tips, and inspirations presented in vivid color. For more on Meadows, visit her website, www.keeyla.bigstep.com.

Color your world

"Color breathes new life into an old garden," says Meadows, who views the garden as a series of paintings, each with a focal point. Five ways to add color to your garden:

• Plant spring-flowering bulbs in ribbons of color.

• Paint a bench or retaining wall a pretty color (use latex paint).

• Mix colorful pavers among patio bricks.

• Paint a pot, then fill it with plants in matching hues.

• Plant grasses to play with wind and light. Set a great sculpture among them.