Thursday, June 7, 2012

An Artist's Playground: The Garden of Christopher Mello

Boys and their never ends, no matter how old the boy becomes.

Of course, though, if the boy is an renowned artist and gardener, toys can dominate a design in the name of art.

And art suddenly becomes more accessible to the neighborhood boys...and girls...and all of those grown-up folks who find Tonka trucks irresistible in a gorgeous enclave of purples and blues and rusty browns.

Following the visit to the mystical Wamboldtopia on day one of the Asheville Garden Bloggers' Fling, our bus arrived at the urban garden of Christopher Mello.

A wall of purple welcomed us...

...with frothy purple smoke bush sporting an adornment of blue bottles, towering above the pride of the garden...

...delicate, crépe paper-inspired blue poppies.

These are not just any poppies. While lurking among the foliage, I overheard Christopher telling the story of his poppies. Beautiful as all of the poppies are in his garden, he works to select specimens that are true blue, culling out the remaining poppies tinged with red in the hopes that he will stabilize a new cultivar, to be named 'Pearl Blue.'

The bees didn't give preferential treatment to the pure blue poppies.

But I would. These are some seriously gorgeous blooms.

I'm lusting for 'Pearl Blue' poppies, although I must admit...I've never succeeded in growing poppies.

I blame our zone.

The garden beds buzzed with pollinators, while the palate selected by Christopher provided a calm, softening frame for his avant-garde works of art:

Winged baby heads.

A nightmare-inducing pagan-ish fellow.

Re-purposed rusted wheelbarrows.

An army of shovels, saluting the fleet of Tonkas.

I adored the heart of the garden, "Dump Truck Park."

Wondering whether this was an artist's ironic view of play—or if the trucks logged any actual time with real kids, I loved to hear that Christopher shares his play space with the area children, allowing them a safe haven to zoom around while their adults relax among the flora.

Within the garden's palate, interesting ornamentals...

'Summer Chocolate' Mimosa

A cultivar of Harry Lauder's Walking Stick, 'Red Majestic,' I believe

...share space with edibles—which you know earned bonus points in my book. 

Florence and bronze fennel softened the sharp shovels...

...while red lettuces complemented the color scheme.

In fact, in many aspects of the garden, plants softened the art, framing rebar and rusty metal designs with flowing, airy foliage.

Even the bottle tree appeared ready to launch the blue and green bottles into space, with its lush foliage barely contained by glass.

Throughout the garden, Christopher's edgy art married with a calming, almost monochromatic color scheme that showcased his talents:



plant geneticist...


...and a boy who still loves his toys.

 XO ~



  1. Aww its so nice to see someone else's view of my world! Thanks to you and all the bloggers for giving me a shot of energy!! It's a shame you all missed the sweetpeas,but so glad you got to see and share my poppies!!

    1. Christopher! You are a poppy rock star! I loved your garden and am so grateful you shared it with us! Fair time I'm in Asheville, I might bring my kiddos to play with your trucks!

  2. Those poppy's were pure Bliss and the Truck brought back so many memories of a little girl playing in the dirt with her older brothers. Ah, those were the innocent days of my childhood while surrounded by beauty and soaking it in while just being a kid....

    1. Seriously, Skeeter...I want to be 7 and playing with Tonkas in the garden. Watching my kiddos laze away the summer days makes me wish I was little again! ;-) Those poppies are fabulous--wish I could grow poppies. I have poppy-envy!

  3. Hi Julie, enjoyed your post about Christopher's garden. I know he was pleased with your photos and comments. I'm still writing about the first day of our tour! By the way, I have a photo that I took of you photographing a flower in a field at the other Christopher's house. I will email it in 300 dpi in case you want to print it out at some point.

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  5. You got so much more information than I did. The poppies are interesting. I enjoy hearing about how the gardens came about and kudos to Christopher for allowing neighborhood kids to play in his garden.

  6. Oh Julie, that last picture is great!!! Love how you included dump trucks and poppies. I like all the photos, especially those of the poppies-- you really captured the crepe paper feel. Loved Christopher's garden, a lot!!