The Exuberant Pollen Garden

To envision the future of gardens, we inevitably look to their past. Our rich and varied cultures have been rooted in and nurtured by the presence and possibilities of gardens. In them abide sustenance and survival: not only for us but for the thousands, perhaps millions of creatures whose lives intertwine with our own in unimaginably complex patterns. These patterns we acknowledge, yet little understand.

Contemporary agriculture pursues the particular. Into this environment of genetic reductionism, we propose an exploration of the heritage of wind-pollinated grain gardens. Rather than the intentionality of engineering, this garden celebrates the flow of the past into the future, the layering of
history, the hard work and the happy accident. Far from being a culture of monotony, the pollen and grain garden expresses the polymorphic nature of the gene, its possibilities and potentials. Heritage grains mix happily together with newly hybridized companion and insectary plants, creating
livelihood and living spaces for all manner of fauna. Pollen, capturing the story of each plant and its ancestors, rides the wind to create a new mosaic, new combinations of life.

Day one: staking the future garden

Day Two: Pool excavation

Day Four: the masts are set, planters and pond in progress

Day Six: filling the planters with earth

Day Seven: assembling 1,300 acrylic balls

Day Nine: planter construction continued

Day Ten: a team of French students stringing acrylic balls

Day Eleven: Seat construction

Day Eleven: Students having a blast staining the seat

many, many, many strands of acrylic balls

Still Day Eleven: Hanging the strands

And Still Day Eleven

Day Twelve (the last day of construction): getting the pool and the planters finished with some help from the Dutch team

Day Twelve: Planting the seeds of heritage grains

Day Twelve: A small party in the garden to celebrate the end of construction with the garden staff and teams from Britain, Holland, and France

The finished garden: The seeds will come up in a week or so, the rest of the plants will go in after the last frost date

Day Thirteen: Morning dew on the balls, the team is getting ready to leave Chaumont


The Exuberant Pollen Garden was designed and built by SOLA for the 2011 International Garden Festival in Chaumont-sur-Loire, France


Chaumont-sur-Loire International Garden Festival


Garden Design and Installation