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Fertile imaginings


Many artists work not just on canvas and paper, but turn their eye and hand to the world on their doorstep. We show you some of their loveliest garden retreats – fine art beneath the open sky

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Jacques Majorelle

Jardin Majorelle

 The French painter Jacques Majorelle landscaped this lush garden in Marrakech in the 1920s using plants from all around the globe, including palms, cactuses and ferns. It was here in this green oasis that fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé fell in love. In the 1980s, they bought the garden and set up a trust to ensure its preservation.



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Robert Irwin

Getty Center Garden

Californian installation artist Robert Irwin once described his park as a “sculpture in the form of a garden aspiring to be art.” The green artwork, commissioned for the grounds of the Getty Center in Los Angeles, was completed in the 1990s. Its tree-lined paths lead to the centerpiece of the park, which features a floating labyrinth of azaleas.


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Claude Monet

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Bridge over water-lily pond: In the late 19th century, the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet created the ultimate artists’ garden outside his house in Giverny, a village between Paris and Rouen, and then captured its beauty for posterity in his series of large-format Nymphéas paintings.




Daisen-in Zen Garden

Rock gardens are integral to Zen Buddhism and Japanese culture. They represent landscapes on a miniature scale: Mountains are symbolized by rocks, waterways by pebbles. The Daisen-in Temple in Kyoto, built circa 1509, is part of one of Japan’s most important temple complexes. The design and building of the garden is attributed to the painter, poet and art critic Sōami.


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CÉsar Manrique

JarDín de Cáctus

 The Jardín de Cáctus, containing thousands of indigenous and imported succulents, opened in the north of the Canary island of Lanzarote in 1990. Why cactuses, exactly? The choice can be interpreted as symbolic: For many years, the artist César Manrique was active in protecting the pristine beauty of his native island and fought foreign investors in an effort to ensure its preservation. Visitors are still welcome.


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Derek Jarman

Derek Jarman‘s Garden

Driftwood and roses, stones and gorse: There’s a certain mystique and poetry to the garden the filmmaker and artist Derek Jarman began creating in the dry soil and salty air of Dungeness, southern England, in the mid-1980s. The work Jarman put into the garden was also a tribute to life following his diagnosis with AIDS. He died in 1994.


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© Swale

Mary Mattingly


Because she felt the New York City area didn’t have enough fresh produce, American installation and performance artist Mary Mattingly converted a barge into a garden to grow herbs, lettuce and even kiwis. The barge stops at various spots along the East and Hudson Rivers for people to come along and help themselves.




1. Getty Center Gardes, Los Angeles

2. Swale, New York

3. Jardín de Cáctus, Lanzarote

4. Jardin Majorelle, Marrakesh

5. Derek Jarman’s Garden, Dungeness

6. Jardin D’eau, Giverny

7. Daizen-In ZEN Garden, Kyoto