Freda Kahlo was a fabulous artist from Mexico City (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954). She was known for her self-portraits, her love of all things growing, and her art’s immersion and reflection in the Mexican culture.
Revered by feminists for the way she used and celebrated the female form, Kahlo has been internationally celebrated as representing both Mexican and the Indigenous traditions in her native country. Her self-portraits, recognizable by her heavy eyebrows and piercing eyes, often feature jewelry of living creatures and backgrounds of lush tropical plants.
A childhood accident resulted in a life-time of health problems and of relative isolation. She said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” She often turned to her garden to find peace.
We can only imagine how much she loved her garden; the quiet and calm created by living tropical plants and art is still found in her Garden of La Casa Azul. Imagine her experience if her garden had been in a glass and steel conservatory!
In her Garden of La Casa Azul
Frida Kahlo’s famed Garden of La Casa Azul (Garden of the blue house) is perhaps best known for showing off not only her art but that of her husband’s, Diego Rivera. The focal point is the beginning of a stepped pyramid, built in the style of the Olmecs, the first major Mesoamerican civilization, dating to between 1000 B.C. and 400 B.C. It’s surrounded by lush, tropical plants, herbs and blossoms, highlighting her fascination with growing things.
In addition to the pyramid, a fountain tinkles and there is the quiet of a reflecting pool which mirrors the lushness. Aquatic shells and mirrors decorate the walls. There is an inscription that says: “Frida y Diego / vivieron en / esta casa / 1929-1954” which translates: “Frida and Diego lived in this house – 1929-1954).”
Kahlo grew a variety of inspiring plants, all of which are perfect for growing under glass. Keep in mind, that although Mexico City can become truly chilly it is by and large a truly mild climate. Tropical plants can not only survive in the open, but thrive – and thrive they do in Kahlo’s garden courtyard.
According to an article in The New Yorker magazine called NATIVE SOIL – What Frida Kahlo cultivated, she grew “Jacaranda, oleander, philodendron, roses, sunflowers, fuchsia, marigolds, palms, ferns, fruit trees, and many varieties of cacti and succulents…” Each of these plants would also thrive in a glass conservatory in cold climes. Can you imagine Kahlo luxuriating in a glass and steel conservatory or greenhouse surrounded by her art, the art of people she loved and the native art she found so stimulating? Kahlo’s garden, complete with a truncated pyramid and such a selection of plants almost anywhere one wanted to combine a love of art, plants and warmth.
Historically, greenhouses proceeded conservatories as places to grow plants that couldn’t stand the local year around temperatures. When, in the 19th century, wrought iron allowed structures to be built with supporting columns the fanciful structures of glass and iron, then glass and steel expanded the concept of a greenhouse into special rooms that invited sunlight and warmth for both plants and people, the Victorian conservatory.
Had Kahlo conjured a glass and steel conservatory, she might have asked that the design of a typical Mexican tile be carved via laser into the supporting beams. She would have appreciated the way carved steel adds strength and lightness to a conservatory room. In fact, we suspect she would have loved the idea.
What’s your fantasy for a steel and glass sanctuary?
What inspires you when it comes to imagining your ideal garden? Let your mind soar, then schedule a FREE 30 minute consultation with our team to discover how your dream can become real.
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