Garden as gallery

Showcase plants and art in your landscape
STEVEN R. LORTON

Teaming up in 1992 to pursue garden art, George Little and David Lewis soon lit up the horticultural world with their bold designs. The two artists continue to dazzle admirers with their ability to combine plants, then embellish those combinations with just the right ornamental pieces. How do they do it? David Lewis fires off these guidelines:

• Take risks, have fun!

• Combine strong textures.

• Go for height; use tall plants, elevate containers.

• Partially hide objects to create an element of mystery and discovery. (The role of art pieces should be secondary.)

• Change it if it doesn't work.

These points are illustrated in the pair's garden on Bainbridge Island, Washington.  A terra-cotta pot brimming with dusty miller seems to hover over a pink sea of Sedum 'Autumn Joy' fronting a sculptural bowl filled with water lilies ( Nymphia oderata 'Helvala'). Waving luxuriantly above are the broad leaves of Japanese banana ( Musa basjoo); a frosty blue ice plant beneath it spills from a pedestal. Nearly hidden, a red gazing ball adds another surprise.

Find other examples of the pair's spirited style in A Garden Gallery: The Plants, Art, and Hardscape of Little and Lewis (Timber Press, 2005; $30).

INFO: Little and Lewis's garden (206/842-8327) is open by appointment .