In November of 2021 we dedicated a new footbridge over Dry Creek. The bridge was designed by Andrew Vrana, an architect and former student of John Fairey’s. Below are Andrew’s thoughts on the bridge.
The Bridge for John Fairey is an homage to a great professor and plantsman who cultivated a beautiful garden as well as a passion for design that he instilled in many of the students he taught.
The inspiration for the form and structure of the footbridge comes from nature. Like a leaf, this bridge incorporates dynamic curvature and vectors of force within one coordinated expression. Nothing is extraneous and nothing can be removed, a true minimal structure. It narrows in the center and widens at the ends which corresponds to axial connections and lines of sight to John’s house and the continuation of the garden to the north. This gesture also concentrates material at the ends where the reaction forces are most concentrated and lightens it in the midspan for maximum efficiency. It is a hybrid system, combining a compression arch with a Vierendeel truss. The bridge is designed to be transparent to the water that flows through it when the creek periodically overflows during flash flood events.
The vibrant colors on the guardrail are a reference to the blooming flowers and autumnal foliage that we can encounter when visiting this garden throughout the seasons and in John’s own design of the architectural features he placed throughout the garden.
In the light shade of savannah holly and pines, camellia flower buds have begun to open, revealing incredible colors and shapes that give a different meaning to the phrase “fall color.” Nestled among deep green glossy leaves, a panoply of flowers are adorned with huge golden stamens or ruffled double pink petals. Some are deep red, others white like porcelain. In the garden, over seventy camellia cultivars will be in full bloom by mid November, and many will continue blooming into March. The camellias of The John Fairey Garden have put on this glamorous show every year for decades, a spectacle that visitors surely don’t want to miss.
John Fairey believed that silver and blue-green colors have a cooling effect as the plants shimmer in the wind. This is certainly true of many palms in the garden. Set high atop the Rain Lily Berm, the Sabal uresana probably have the most dramatic effect on visitors as they glimpse the deeply shadowed silvery blue-green leaves and hear the rustling of the fibrous leaves in the wind. The sound has been likened to the dull burbling and rippling of water in a stream. These palms didn’t escape our winter freeze totally unscathed but they are rebounding nicely. Set throughout the Garden, our Brahea moorei palms, collected in the montane forests of eastern Mexico, display dramatic golden inflorescences and leaves with silver underside. As visitors walk the winding paths through pine and oak, camellia and mahonia, evergreen palms with a tropical flair wave their silvery blue leaves. The Brahea moorei palms, likewise, were affected by the extreme low temperatures of this winter’s storm but they are slowly making a comeback.