Artists and Their Gardens

Art history is full of examples of artists who’ve turned to gardening and gardens for subject matter, for gallery and studio space, or for a retreat. Joaquin Sorolla filled his front patio with fountains, fruit trees and flowers by which he painted daily, while Pierre-Auguste Renoir has a rose named after him because he often included them in his figure paintings. But perhaps the most famous artist-gardener is Claude Monet. During the 43 years he lived in Giverny, France, he created more than 500 paintings of his home and grounds, even building a separate studio to accommodate the large-scale works of his water garden.

Read on to see how you can become part of this grand tradition.

Artists’ Gardens (Trafalgar Square Publishing). Bill Law celebrates the gardens of historical and modern artists, such as Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne and Jennifer Bartlett.

From the Ground Up (Algonquin). Writer Amy Stewart takes us through the year of her first garden.

A Garden in Lucca: Finding Paradise in Tuscany (Hyperion). Paul Gervais recounts the story of how he learned to garden and live in Italy at the same time.

Garden Retreats: Creating an Outdoor Sanctuary (Chronicle Books). Barbara Blossom Ashmun shows various ways of making your garden your own paradise.

Inner Gardening: Four Seasons of Cultivating the Soil and the Spirit (William Morrow). Diane Dreher discovers the deep relationship between gardening and our lives.

Monet at Giverny (Cassell & Co.). Caroline Holmes explores the man, the garden and the paintings of Impressionism’s most famous gardener.

My Vegetable Love (Iowa University Press). Writer and gardener Carl Klaus shares his year-long journal of essays about his garden and the impact it has on his life.

Notes From Madoo: Making a Garden in the Hamptons (Houghton Mifflin). Robert Dash shares many of his essays from the biweekly gardening column he’s written for the East Hampton Star over the past dozen years.

The Outdoor Garden Room (North Light Books). Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell shows you how to bring some of your art into your garden. Projects include a mosaic birdbath, a garden chandelier, painted flowerpots and more.

The Painted Garden (Running Press). Artist and illustrator Mary Woodin shares a year in her London garden, complete with historical gardening quotes and paintings of the things growing in her garden.

Painting Flowers in Watercolor With Charles Reid (North Light Books). Charles Reid shows you how to paint flowers, leaves and stems through a series of simple, how-to demonstrations.

Van Gogh’s Gardens (Simon & Schuster). Derek Fell planted gardens inspired by the floral paintings and garden-related letters of Vincent van Gogh.

The Writer in the Garden (Algonquin). Editor Jane Garmey collected poems, essays and excerpts on gardening from such well-known writers as E.B. White, Jamaica Kincaid, Charles Kurault and more.

Born and raised in the People’s Republic of China, Xiaogang Zhu received some formal academic training in art after completing military service. He became a textile and graphic designer, and then an art professor at a vocational school in Nan Jing and a university in Shanghai before moving to the United States in 1989. He received a master’s degree in painting from Radford University in Virginia in 1991. He’s now a signature member of the American Watercolor Society; his work is exhibited in several prestigious galleries; and he’s won numerous awards in international art competitions, including the High Winds Medal from the AWS in 1995 and first prize in the landscape category of The Artist’s Magazine’s 1999 Art Competition. He lives with his wife and two sons in Shelton, Washington.

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