Environmental Art

Los Angeles Arboretum's Sunset Demonstration Garden

This Native Plant Garden is designed to be experienced on several levels:

As a place to enjoy the outdoors, to capture a mood of tranquility and to escape into nature.

As a sensual place to smell plant fragrances, hear the sounds of birds and insects attracted by the plants, feel the textural differences of polished surfaces and rough rock, prickly leaves and soft ones, bright sun and dense shade.

As an educational and demonstration tool to view a large collection of the more easy to grow native plants and a wide range of creative uses of granite from slabs that have highly polished, sandblasted, honed, and flame finishes, to large boulders, cobbles, loose granite pea gravel, decomposed granite, and the most finely graded stone dust.

As a symbolic expression of the dilemma of creating a native plant garden--to be an artful construction or to be a slice out of nature? Symbolically this native plant garden explores the issue of landscape design as a duplication of nature vs using natural materials to create a manmade contrivance. Dynamic flowing paths resembling nature's dry stream bed lead to a focal point square seating area under the shade of an adjacent oak. This seating area is a grid-like arrangement of four identical granite boulders (one real and 3 identical manmade copies) set on a polished black granite slab suggesting water with etched concentric ripple patterns and embedded small leaf shapes of orange granite stone giving the appearance of floating on water.

As a study of contrasts:

MAN MADE vs OF NATURE
IMITATION vs REAL
DARK vs LIGHT
HARD vs SOFT
LARGE vs SMALL
ACTIVE/DYNAMIC vs PEACEFUL/AT REST
CHAOS vs ORDER
RIGID GEOMETRY vs FREEFORM
FIXED vs LOOSE

This garden poses the dilemma without solving it. Should we leave nature alone and try to erase man's footprint on it or is it okay to disturb the natural order to create artificial beauty? Should our homes be set in nature and the garden left to the evolution of natural forces or should the garden be a built artificial nature for bettering the use of the land?

This garden is an element of the times, the era of growing environmental awareness of nature's fragile existence and its clash with man's achievements in technology and desire to employ natural resources. How will we achieve a harmony and balance between man's use of nature and his preservation of it?