June 15, 2018 | Bridget Blomquist, Horticulturist

I was born in the mid-1970s and have such fond memories of growing up in the 1980s. For me, the 80s proved a dynamic and exciting time to be a kid where music and pop culture were just a flick of the switch away on the TV and computer technology was becoming another form of entertainment. This summer’s Annuals Garden and Pavilion garden design is a memoir of my childhood where each garden bed conjures memories of a time and place in the 1980s. I assigned each garden bed an 80s pop song title, making each design very personal. It is also a fitting theme to compliment the Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting exhibition that features sculptures in the style of vintage video game graphics.

“Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes, 1983
The Welcome Beds located on either side of the garden’s north entrance are named “Blister in the Sun” because the hot colors are so bright and searing that one could get blistered and burned from staring at these colors for long. I thought I was cool for liking this song because older teenagers slam danced to it. This was my first introduction to punk rock and somehow, I scored a dubbed cassette tape of the self-titled album “Violent Femmes” and eventually memorized every song.

“White Wedding” by Billy Idol, 1982
The Berm Bed on the west side is the backdrop for many summer weddings. It’s designed with flowers and foliage in an antiqued color palette. Because many will say “I do” in front of this bed, it is named White (Antiqued) Wedding, for Billy Idol’s song.

“Every Breath You Take” by The Police, 1983
At the base of the berm is a narrow bed – also in view during wedding ceremonies – that boasts airy plant material and a neutral color palette.

“Where the Streets Have no Name” by U2, 1987
The raised bed in the center of the garden has a tropical island feel. Its dark color tones are contrasted with salmon and peach, conjuring up a far off exotic and distant place. A place so far away, the streets are unnamed. As a thirteen-year-old in 1987, U2’s song stirred up that teenage angst and wanderlust, that someday I would explore the great big world out there.

“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure, 1987
There was a time in the 80’s when everywhere you looked, everything was stylized in pastels. Right around 1987, I can remember dressing in pastels from head to toe, even the malls were decked out in every color in the pastel rainbow. We had big hair, big earrings and big shoulder pads to make any linebacker nervous. The raised J. Trellis Bed along the east edge of the garden is planted with fluffy, pompous foliage plants and pastel flowers as homage to this 80s trend. I can remember listening to “Just Like Heaven” and feeling “alternative” in my bleached-out light blue jeans, oversized sweatshirt and poufy hair, almost as big as Robert Smith’s.

“Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash, 1982
To Cladrastis Bed, the north of the J. Trellis Bed, is planted with hues of black and white. Black and white are two visible colors on opposite ends of the visible spectrum. Yin and Yang, salt and pepper, light and dark, one or the other. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” is the perfect title for this bed.

“Shock the Monkey” by Peter Gabriel, 1982
The Quercus Shade Bed is on the eastern edge of the garden and planted with tropical looking foliage and flowering plants. Banana trees (Musa spp.) from the Gardens’ Tropical Collection are planted to enhance the tropical feel. I thought “Shock the Monkey” would be a good name for the bed since the banana trees make me think of monkeys. This song has the quintessential synthesizer tones and Casio sounding drum machine quality that defined so much of the era’s musical sound.

Three Beds, Three Songs
The Promenade Beds are three long rectangular beds located on the south side of the garden. Each bed is named for an 80s song that I just flat out love. The east Promenade Bed is named for its color, “Cherry Oh Baby,” UB40’s 1983 reggae song. The middle Promenade Bed is named for The Beastie Boys’ 1986, “No Sleep till Brooklyn.” And finally, the west Promenade Bed is named “Kiss” for Prince’s 1986 hit song. These three songs are anthems of the decade, I dare you to not start groovin’ when you hear them!

“Tainted Love / Where did our Love Go?” Soft Cell, 1981
The Amalanchier Beds are long, continuous beds to the south. These are planted in a somewhat formal style with upright basil intended to look like boxwood hedges. I named this bed after Soft Cell’s two-song combo hit and remake that makes me feel good every time I heard it even though it is about losing a love and heartbreak.

“Purple Rain” by Prince, 1984
The pergola plantings are dedicated to a favorite artist and one of my favorite songs of all time! Take a stroll under the south pergola and notice the beautiful planters brimming with flowers full of texture and purple hues.

I hope you enjoy a walk down memory lane through the Annuals Garden and Pavilion. It’s like, totally tubular.

The Annuals Garden and Pavilion showcases All-America Selections (AAS) winning plants. AAS is the oldest independent testing organization of flower and edible varieties in North America. Through a rigorous process of field testing, outstanding performers are identified and introduced to the retail market.

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