Your update on all things compost related at the garden
This week we have so much more than just compost to report about, let’s dive right in!
Compost update: doing good and being put to good use! This week we filled one bin from donors.
Highlight: we used the compost from our first bin for an art installation created by Anna K. Lemnitzer. In collaboration with the NOLA Artist Incubator, we contributed to the Artist-in-Residency program, aimed at creating sustainable and environmentally inspired installations in the community.
Over the course of her residency she created a sculpture designed for plants to grow vertically and encompass the structure. We helped with some consultation and some of the heavy lifting and dirty work. She was kind enough to let us be a part of an offering she made to the artwork and the garden as part of her process. We are so happy with the end result of all her hard work! Check out her living wall she created at the Galvez Garden!
Upon arrival, Dylan showed her around the garden, she met some neighbors, and proceeded to get to work on the sculpture almost immediately.
Anna started by fabricating a sculpture designed to meet the following objectives: withstand hurricanes, grow, be of aesthetic value, and be safe for a community garden.
For the base of her piece, Anna used hog wire and created a series of crescent shaped modular structures.
Next, she lined the structures with a layer of burlap, coffee sacks from P.J.’s Coffee. The structures were tedious work to bind and the burlap was attached also intricately bound together with wire. Watching her work I can testify that there was much weaving and wrapping in the preliminary construction of the sculpture.
Inside of the burlap a layer of cardboard was inserted into the vessels and then they were brought to the garden.
We played around with where to place them in the garden and then she configured them to match her original sketches. It was amazing to see it all come together and after much hard work, this seemed to be only the half way mark of the installation.
Remember how I said the installation needed to be hurricane proof?
Anna used rebar to secure the structures to the site. A layer of broken concrete was placed in the largest structure, followed by about a foot of gravel throughout the bases each section of the sculpture. The wire was secured with landscaping hooks and the bas was buried in mulch. We planted a wisteria in one section of the sculpture to further insulate it from hurricane strength winds. The wisteria will grow throughout the sculpture. It is a notoriously fast growing tree that will spread widely and may require additional support in the future. Properly trained when it is young, the branches will continue to gain dimension and strength and we’re excited to see how it adds to the structure over the years.
We purchased plants from Harold’s and got to work filling the sculpture with soil, composted manure, and compost from our bins. It’s really special to me that the sculpture is filled from composted food scraps collected from the community. Parks and Parkways donated plants for landscaping in preparation of the installation.
Much thought was given into the soil used for the sculpture. The mixture of compost and soil and consideration of drainage with pebbles will all aid in the success of plant growth. I think all in, we probably used two truckloads of soil to fill the sculpture.
Anna also performed a ritual and gave offerings to the garden. She brought an antler and various stones with different meanings to include in the work. We planted them inside the sculpture, setting good intentions of protection, openness, and love.
Anna was a beast the entire course of her residency, but she really upped the anti on installation day at the garden. It was pouring down rain for large chunks of the day and she was not deterred a bit! My pictures are only from when I stopped by in between the torrential downfalls.
As you can tell, working in Louisiana- in July- is not for the weak minded. I put in maybe a quarter of the time outside as Anna on Installation Day, and I was a sweaty mess!
When she started to put the plants in, the sculpture really did come to life. We selected a variety of shade tolerant, low maintenance plants and succulents to give them the best chance of success growing in the sculpture. Again, Anna took her time and patiently wove within, throughout, and around the artwork.
The finished work is stunning. It has completely redefined the space and creates a new “room” in the garden. Several unexpected walking paths now exist and create trails for visitors to view the sculpture in the round.
I planted vincas and butterfly weeds around the newly created entrance, to define a walking path and highlight the structure. Those plants were donated by Parks and Parkways. A gentle sloping bioswale boarders the entrance from the Mandeville side of the garden.
She titled the work:
Thank you NOLA Artist Incubator and Anna K. Lemnitzer for this beautiful addition to the Garden! In the middle of the city we now offer a living wall for visitors to reflect and meditate while visiting our urban garden!
It took so long to construct the sculpture we never did get a chance to properly celebrate her achievement. We’ll have to schedule something in the future to honor her hard work and properly introduce it to the world. For now, we are just so very thankful for art in the garden. We look forward to hosting the Incubator on future artistic collaborations.
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