Nolde's first flower paintings date from 1906 and it was through them that Nolde would gradually discover how colour could transform his vision of nature. The present picture was painted during the summer of 1908 while he was on the island of Alsen. Nolde painted a number of flower and garden paintings between 1906 and 1908, many of which were done in the gardens of neighbours like Borchardt or Anna Wied. In a letter from Nolde to Rudolf Hoffmann, dated Hamburg, 27.12.46, the artist writes about this picture: 'The two figures are my wife and the one further back Frau Borchardt in their flower-garden.' Nolde would paint his wife Ada standing or seated, surrounded by a carpet of blazing colours, her figure often indicated by the briefest of brush-stokes. Nolde himself recalled: "On Alsen, where I returned to work once more, what I produced were always only beginnings and I was never satisfied. In Munich and Berlin I had seen a lot of contemporary art. I had become acquanted with the works of van Gogh, Gauguin and Munch; I was enthralled, filled with reverence and love. I needed to absorb all that" (Quoted in Exh. cat. Vincent van Gogh and the modern movement, 1890-1914, Freren 1990, p. 344).
In 1906, he had been invited by Kirchner, Heckel, Schmidt-Rottluff, Pechstein and Bleyl to join their group, the Brcke. All the Brcke artists responded to van Gogh's work, but amongst them, Nolde probably did so most strongly (See M. Reuther, Das Frhwerk Emil Noldes, Cologne 1985, p. 268). As can be seen in the comparison between Blumengarten and van Gogh's Corner of Voyer-d'Argenson Park at Asnires, 1887, it is not only the handling of brushstroke, the rendering of colour and light, but also the compositon in which a strong rapport between the two painters can be seen. In the present picture, Ada stands with her back to the viewer, the deep pink of her dress matching the resonance of the flowers. Nolde applies each pigment with loose, heavy, expressive brushstrokes: the rough painterly surface heightening the contrast between the vivid colour accents and light and shade. The extent to which he was taken by flowers and gardens, still comes across in his paintings and Nolde himself expressed his excitement: "small, rich, beautifully tended gardens with flower beds, mutlitudes of flowers... The colours of the flowers drew me irresistibly, and quite suddenly I found myself painting... The glowing colours of the flowers and the purity of the colours - I loved it all." The same effects and the same riotous display of colours are found in other garden scenes of the time: Anna Wied's Garten (Urban 233) Lot 57, Trollhois Garten (Urban 224) now in the Nolde-Stiftung Seebll, and Blumengarten, Frau im Weissen Kleid, en face (Urban 272) in the Karl-Ernst-Osthaus-Museum, The Hague.