The New Chihully Garden

While visiting family in Seattle over Thanksgiving, I got a chance to visit the brand new Chihully Garden and Glass exhibition in the downtown Seattle Center. You can see the other main attraction through the glass room’s ceiling that features these Chihully sculptures: The Space Needle.

The museum showcases Chihully’s work over the years. My favorite was some of his earliest work where he emulated Native American baskets. I have to say he’s not one of my favorite artists, but the guy sure is technically and commercially gifted! (I wrote a post last summer about the glass museum in nearby Tacoma, Washington, where he has a lot of work featured.)

After you finish viewing the inside highlights, you walk through a large glass room, and then outside to a garden that encircles the 1.5 acre exhibit. Because the exhibit only opened several months ago, all the plantings are still very small. Like most new gardens, they will only grow more amazing with time.

But my goal is to show you how they matched up the plantings with the glass sculptures.

See how the colors and tones of the plantings mimic the glass? If you know the Pacific Northwest, you already know how their fall and winter plants feature a beautiful mix of deep, yet muted reds, purples, greens and yellow.


There are also lots of conifers, which are contrasted with the giant lime green glass tree.


These purple spikes all stick out of the ground around a large, felled tree trunk.


The purple spikes seemed garish to me, but I did love these more organic, deep maroon pods that looked

as though they had slowly emerged from the tree itself.

This garden was so packed with brightly colored glass pieces that it had a carnival feel. But isolated into smaller vignettes, they worked much better. Here you can see a type of tree that has a trunk that is naturally red. It’s a fun contrast to the purple spikes.




 That’s a corkscrew hazel in the background (Thanks for the i.d., Monica!). Over time, that will look cool with the curly purple pieces.

I thought the colors of these glass pieces, which were warmer and more organic looking, worked really well with the plantings (cyclamen, sedums, etc.).



 Here are some classic Chihully chandeliers that line an outside corridor along the garden.


I love this one with its nubby ends and warm yellow color. I like his work the best when he sticks to one or two colors or tones, rather than pack too many colors in at once. Editing goes a long way with Chihully. But since it’s his museum, I guess he gets to pack it in here–and so far, no one but me is complaining.

 If you get a chance to visit the Seattle Center and the Chihully Garden, check out the Chihully Collections Cafe. It is so fun, and his personal collections of everything from vintage beer openers to accordions are showcased throughout–including the tabletops. My sister said the food is delicious, too!

(She introduced us to some other fine eateries, if you are in the area: The Portage Bay Cafe, a classic Seattle restaurant best for breakfast fare knoshing downtown, and Cafe Flora, a fantastic vegetarian restaurant in the Madison Valley neighborhood, and some excellent coffee and art at Zeitgeist Coffee in the heart of Pioneer Square.)

Thanks again, Kristin, for sharing your amazing hometown with us!

7 thoughts on “The New Chihully Garden

    1. Thanks for the plant id Monika! If you know the names of any of the other plants–such as that little tree with bright red trunk and limbs–and wish to share them, I would love to include them in this post. Janine

  1. How wonderful that you had a sunny day to explore. Having seen that same giant lime green glass tree in Phoenix at the Desert Botanical Garden it’s quite the contrast to see it backed by conifers!

    (and just between you and me I feel the same about Chihully)

  2. I too have the same feeling about Chihully…a little goes a long way. That said, one of those chandeliers over a reflecting pond would be my idea of heaven. Thanks for the great post.

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