13 Jun 2017

Nantucket Garden Art

The famed French artist Claude Monet once said, “I am following Nature without being able to grasp her, I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” Mr. Monet had a lifelong goal of capturing and conveying the story of the French countryside through his art. He was so “impressed” (literally) by the wildflowers and landscape surrounding him that his artistic work helped coin the phrase “impressionism” that was derived from his painting titled “Impression.”

My husband and I found ourselves impressed…and even spellbound…earlier this spring when we had the profound honor of visiting Monet’s gardens and museum in Giverny, France. It was easy to understand his dilemma of following nature without being able to grasp her. As we strolled through the stunning gardens it was hard to comprehend the beauty…each bed more spectacular than the last and each variety of wildflower and succulent a new reason to pause in awe. Monet would likely find it tragic that his paintbrush has been replaced by many sporting their cellphone cameras…but the sentiment remains. A sincere effort to try to memorialize the beauty that nature affords for later reflection.

Nantucket is not Giverny, but it certainly has its own tapestry of natural beauty. There are multiple gardens, wildflower patches and even manicured window boxes this time of year that can still invoke the same overwhelming emotion of Monet’s gardens. Even as I pull around the corner into my own drive each day now, I am forced to slow the car to a crawl and admire the blooming Iris, Allium and peony bushes with their buds promising to steal the show at any moment. I don’t pretend to have a green thumb, so I’m always a bit shocked and delighted when the perennials continue to show up unprompted and grace our home with their beauty.

My little bed pales in comparison to the stunning well-tended gardens popping open all across the island these days. From the perfectly manicured English variety tucked behind white picket fences, to the more “au natural” wildflower fields, to the sprawling rosa rugosa plants gracing the beach paths…the beauty is mesmerizing, comforting and in the words of Monet himself “quite impressive.” He once quipped that he was “installed in a fairytale place…” that everything around him was “quite supurb.” Imagine his response if he had visited Nantucket.
Discover the island’s floral beauty for yourself this summer. Join the Nantucket Garden Club for their Green Thumb Flower Show in July or their House and Garden tour in August. Stroll the quiet side streets in the historic district to admire the wide variety of beds, gardens and plantings. Or stop into the William Welch Gallery on Easy Street and inquire about his oil paintings of rose covered Sconset cottages and Monet’s gardens. Sometimes art really does imitate life.
Be impressed.

Shellie Dunlap

Shellie Dunlap - A Nantucket Experience

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