An Artist's Playground: The Garden of Christopher Mello

Boys and their never ends, no matter how old the boy becomes.

Of course, though, if the boy is an renowned artist and gardener, toys can dominate a design in the name of art.

And art suddenly becomes more accessible to the neighborhood boys...and girls...and all of those grown-up folks who find Tonka trucks irresistible in a gorgeous enclave of purples and blues and rusty browns.

Following the visit to the mystical Wamboldtopia on day one of the Asheville

Garden Bloggers' Fling

, our bus arrived at the urban garden of Christopher Mello.

A wall of purple welcomed us...

...with frothy purple smoke bush sporting an adornment of blue bottles, towering above the pride of the garden...

...delicate, crépe paper-inspired blue poppies.

These are not just any poppies. While lurking among the foliage, I overheard Christopher telling the story of his poppies. Beautiful as all of the poppies are in his garden, he works to select specimens that are true blue, culling out the remaining poppies tinged with red in the hopes that he will stabilize a new cultivar, to be named 'Pearl Blue.'

The bees didn't give preferential treatment to the pure blue poppies.

But I would. These are some seriously gorgeous blooms.

I'm lusting for 'Pearl Blue' poppies, although I must admit...I've never succeeded in growing poppies.

I blame our zone.

The garden beds buzzed with pollinators, while the palate selected by Christopher provided a calm, softening frame for his avant-garde works of art:

Winged baby heads.

A nightmare-inducing pagan-ish fellow.

Re-purposed rusted wheelbarrows.

An army of shovels, saluting the fleet of Tonkas.

I adored the heart of the garden, "Dump Truck Park."

Wondering whether this was an artist's ironic view of play—or if the trucks logged any actual time with real kids, I loved to hear that Christopher shares his play space with the area children, allowing them a safe haven to zoom around while their adults relax among the flora.

Within the garden's palate, interesting ornamentals...

'Summer Chocolate' Mimosa

A cultivar of Harry Lauder's Walking Stick, 'Red Majestic,' I believe

...share space with edibles—which you know earned bonus points in my book.

Florence and bronze fennel softened the sharp shovels...

...while red lettuces complemented the color scheme.

In fact, in many aspects of the garden, plants softened the art, framing rebar and rusty metal designs with flowing, airy foliage.

Even the bottle tree appeared ready to launch the blue and green bottles into space, with its lush foliage barely contained by glass.

Throughout the garden, Christopher's edgy art married with a calming, almost monochromatic color scheme that showcased his talents:



plant geneticist...


...and a boy who still loves his toys.

XO ~