Retro and modern is a definite trend in American design, but Whitebox Studio has found a surprising and inspiring one.
The Whitebox Studio team has created a patch of a carrot pasty on Jackman Avenue in Flushing, a public space–and one of the only hardscaped areas in Queens. The main features of the garden are: A berm of ice plant, grass, rocks, and compost; perfect cross-cut carrots in saucers with orange-red stems; and flowering catkins, also called purple carrots and narcissus, in small vases on a white plastic table that overlooks the patch.
Bundled into the “Carrot Common,” as the plants are called, are electric orange and gold striped eggs of the jonquils, and orangeish purple packets of Grandiflora Solace, a garden-friendly and low-maintenance carefree plant. Whitebox designer Douglas Lovell says he “always envisioned a community garden like the sort you find in backyards or urban parks, but without the formal garden.”
“The answer to the answer to creating space that feels like a common space for all to enjoy is to create something that feels intimate and unique in terms of its function,” Lovell says. “Carrot Common feels spontaneous and a bit like an open-air museum or gallery, not a centralized outdoor market. The plantings have a sense of exploration and beauty that have a really relaxed, open feeling.”
The city is known for its exquisite public spaces, from the High Line and High Line Park to Coney Island and Central Park. Many of them are landscaped, typically with a botanical theme. Whitebox Studio also works on design projects for the Lower East Side Community Garden, in Flushing, and The Community Garden Studio in Brooklyn.
While these are stellar examples of gardens, the former can also have a limited use in a city where public use is limited. The space at Whitebox Studio–and the carrots–do just fine.