Originally published in STIR®



Jackie finds color inspiration at the Dale Chihuly Garden Exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum.

Colorful summer gardens engage, awaken and stir our senses — whether it’s escaping to the serenity of a verdant shaded forest; wandering through a bed of lush, fragrant roses; or meandering the paths of an arboretum stocked with unique botanicals and imaginatively curated plantings.

The Dallas Arboretum provides such an escape from the concrete maze of the city. This summer the arboretum’s experience was further enhanced with the dramatic glass sculptures and artistry of Dale Chihuly. Many of you may have already encountered this remarkable installation; it’s appeared at several arboretums across the country over the last 10 years.  For me, it was my first encounter with Chihuly’s art in a natural setting. It played out like a whimsical fantasy — part art museum, part garden. I found it to be absolutely worth every minute — even with a temperature of 109 degrees on the day I went. (To learn more about Chihuly’s work, read our interview with him.)

Chihuly’s colorful and arresting creations were thoughtfully placed amid the flowerbeds, grassy fields, ponds, reflecting pools and misty forests of this 66-acre parcel of paradise. The energetic hues and almost animated shapes of the sculptures provided a striking silhouette against cloudless blue skies, and complemented the natural surroundings with a striking juxtaposition of scale, texture, pattern and shape. 

With every sculpture or installation unique and beautiful in its own way, it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. However, I have to say the Women’s Garden, with its serene negative edge pool that seamlessly blends into White Rock Lake, provides the perfect setting for “Float Boat” and “Carnival Boat.” These sculptures’ riotous, colorful globes and curling glass branches, reflecting on the water’s surface, are absolutely breathtaking. Words cannot do this visual experience justice, so please enjoy these images, and I hope your local arboretum can entice Mr. Chihuly to bring his collection to your town.