Ireland – what a country! An island with moderating temperatures, long daylight in the summer and plentiful rain.
Colors are sharper and greens are greener. Having just spent two weeks on a garden tour on the southern coast of this small island (170 miles x 300 miles), I saw amazing combinations of flowers, stone, hedges and a backdrop of fields, sheep and water.
One Sunday every spring and one every fall brings a large outdoor Antique Flea Market to my local fairground. It boasts a very diverse group of vendors with a very diverse collection of antiques but more realistically they are selling junk. I am defining junk as:
Something you do not need. Something covered in rust. Something missing pieces or just pieces of something. Something broken/no longer in working condition. Something of no practical use.
See the picture of a seven foot tall blue WWII torpedo? By definition it is the epitome of junk…but to me it is beautiful and curious and sculptural. It is elegant and odd.
When it comes to decorating the garden, the question of “usefulness” is the loophole. Does something have to be useful to have aesthetic value? Can the history, wear and patina of an object add interest without function? For me the answer is a celebratory yes! In the way that stone and plants add texture and depth to the garden, collected objects can do the same. The layers in the garden are what give the garden uniqueness and story. What is that? Why is it placed there? What does it mean? To me these are great questions to hear. It says that you have struck a chord, piqued interest and generated thinking. It also gives new life to a castoff. It brings a bit of humor or drama to the space. In some cases it can also bring the spirit of the object’s previous owner into your garden.
Building a garden is about discovery. Making connections to the past and re-use are great creative ways to express you!
P.S. The torpedo was being sold for $400…sadly I had to leave it behind…but it would have looked great with the Blue Spruce in my garden…
For many of us, when we think of the contents of a garden we often think of plants – our favorite perennials, trees or shrubs. Perhaps an arbor, wall, bench or chair, maybe even a hammock. Some of us may think of sculptural elements like water, art, gazing balls or a bird bath. But let’s look at another element that humans have been working with and around since time began: rock.
From an early perspective, rocks were the byproduct of gardening, moved to the side of the field for easier cultivation. Think of those iconic fieldstone walls running through the New England woods. We’ve all come across plenty of rocks, perhaps more than we care to think about. Just how many times has our planting progress been thwarted by that all too familiar jarring feeling and corresponding metal-on-stone audible clank? Many of us would be happy to never see another stone in our gardens again! But I suggest taking another look at stone.
Rocks can be used as sculptural elements in the garden to satisfy a need for form, function or both. Smaller stones can provide a path to, or edge along, our favorite perennial bed. Larger rocks can be an enduring four season focal point or act as a seat to catch a moment’s rest. A jagged rock protruding from the earth creates a sense of drama whereas a rounded stone nestled among ground covers can be soothing and look natural. Rocks can be the backdrop to show off one of our favorite plants. Rocks with crags or a depression can collect water and attract wildlife. And if your “thumb” errs on the brown side rather than green, you’ll never have to worry about watering, killing or overwintering rocks.
Let us help you look at rocks in a positive light!