This pair of architectural fragments caught my eye this week. These are not what you would typically think to use in a garden.
They’re carved wood so they would need a sheltered place to last any length of time, but I think they’re really crazy cool. Two immediate ways to use them could be as funky decoration on the front or bottom of a rectangular window box or wall hung planter. OR I could use them on the outside of the two windows that face my patio from the garage…outdoor faux draperies? The detail is extraordinary and they’re just so much fun! They’re from Polly McArthur and Associates in Seattle…I’ll have to stop in when I’m there in July with the Garden Bloggers Fling!
I am often blown away by the way landscapes are rendered in animation. Madagascar, carnet de voyage by Bastien Dubois took four years to make and is one of five short animated films nominated for an Oscar this year. In the following excerpt (the entire running time is only about 12 minutes) the landscape is, in my opinion, a star.
There was a finality to typing the number 52. I’ll admit to feeling a bit wistful. When I embarked on this journey of discovery, it was to explore what I might learn about inspiration and creativity by regular and frequent visits to the same small space. I learned more about myself than either of those two things.
I learned with even greater conviction that I don’t like the constraints of regularity…there were Mondays I wanted to skip…but didn’t. I learned that seeing out the project no matter where it lead was important despite the regularity of it. I learned that even in a small space that’s less than 300 square feet, there’s always something special to be discovered or celebrated…I needed to be reminded of that.
There has been so much snow here that there is no access to the garden beyond climbing through four foot piles of snow or jumping out of one of the windows on the house side. Either seems just too hard, to cold or just plain stupid so this week I am looking back visually. Next week I will wrap everything up regardless of the weather. Here’s an idiosyncratic portrait of the garden over the last year…week by week…backwards.
The snow cover is making this difficult. It’s knee deep on the way into and out of the garden. The image was taken from the sidewalk 35 feet away since what immediately interested me was the forms the melting/windblown snow was making on the path. Like earthwork sculpture but not.
This should be No. 48, but last week I was so busy that I didn’t even think about going out to the garden until it was dark…
This week is much the same, but I’ve made time since I haven’t been out there since the snow two weeks ago. Shadow play, animal tracks and skeletons of summer shrubs are the norm now. What delighted me today were the icicles on the bulkhead. I didn’t expect that. I refused to have the doors painted when the house was done this past summer since the patina is so beautiful. I was right.
Snow. Too much to go out into the garden where the drifts are well over three feet. My boots aren’t that tall! The photo was taken from the warmth inside to the garden through the bathroom window screen.
It was bound to happen. A new member of a carefully adamantly warned lawn and clean-up crew went nuts with his string trimmer. I didn’t catch him totally on time. I abhor string trimmers and gas powered garden tools in general. I really dislike when my instructions aren’t followed. I like the mess. I don’t want my gardens to look like a nuclear winter in winter. DAMN. At least I didn’t take it out on the foreman who apologized and reconfirmed that I didn’t want anything cut back–I can do that myself thank you very much.
It’s grey. It’s damp. It’s winter. It’s challenging to find something interesting going on. I’ve hit a wall of mostly sticks and stones. I suppose that’s fine since there’s so much going on at this time of the year outside of the garden…
The colors of winter. It’s gotten very cold and except for some oaks, there are no leaves clinging to their branches. It’s a time of texture in the garden. A quick trip in and out tells the story most days.
I went out into the garden this morning with clear intent. I found what I was looking for, but it was not the most interesting to me. Last night was cold. Frost was still on the remaining leaves of plants I’ve come to know very well over the past months. I shot some images of that…they were pretty but weren’t what really piqued my interest. This was…frost on the arm of my old Adirondack chair.
I have a new contender for the last blast of color for the year. One of the new plants I added to the garden this year was a Cotinus coggygria ‘Golden Spirit’. I used the one I planted for a client a few weeks ago as a post about color inspiration, but mine was never that subtle. It rivals the Fothergilla gardenii in another part of the garden for fall drama. I am delighted that after 41 weeks there’s still something wonderful in this small garden space…
The view from my studio is totally red…but this is about the garden. Every year in mid-November this street tree, an Acer rubrum, puts on the most reliable and spectacular show. It is only marginally visible from the far end of the ‘Mondays’ garden, but its fire beckons and teases me through the browning foliage.
Today it really feels like winter is settling in. The wind is blowing, the last of the leaves swirling in the air and the sky above is grey.
Color is more subtle now. It will be another month before it has reaches the high contrast of midwinter. Even though they are elegant in their neutrality, somehow the subtle tans and browns seem drab after the show of high summer and the blazing display of fall foliage. Its another signal of change–one I would not notice if I wasn’t in the garden.
This seems to be a visual oxymoron. Is there such a thing? I bought this beautiful Cornus kousa ‘Samaritan’ earlier in the season as a gift to myself. I rarely buy plants. Its red tipped fall color seemed to be dipped in blood–just in time for Halloween. It brought to mind…bloody compassion..hence the oxymoron.
Gardens are also about sky. The open, infinite and mysterious beyond. I spend too much time looking down. Here’s what was up above the red maple at one end of the garden this morning. It was definitely worth the look. There’s a storm coming.
October is precious. The finest weather time of the year–cool crisp mornings and warm golden afternoons. Why am I always surprised when the leaves are suddenly glorious in their fall color? It sneaks up on me every year. Autumn seems more fleeting than spring– as if the cold heart of winter is pounding at the church door.
I’ve been out of town for more than a week. I skipped last week since, obviously, I was elsewhere. I was in other people’s gardens in fact. Having observed one of my own so closely for more than half the year has taught me to be decisive and critical in my viewing. As a designer, I need more than pure observation. I need to gauge the mood of a place, its nuances. What looks right to me? What looks forced? What simply is–like rain held in the concave leaves of a young Cotinus.
Cool mornings. Slow bees. Long shadows. I’ve always been interested in light and shadow in gardens and have never been able to master manipulating the experience. I know I’ve said before that my favorite tree, the one I originally built the garden around, will have to come down next spring before it falls on the house. This will be its last fall casting shadows so this image is a sort of memento mori before the fact.
Unexpected. Abstract. It rained in the garden yesterday–a soft soaking rain. In a last minute stay of execution I decided to leave this one Caryopteris ssp. in the garden a few weeks ago. The other two are gone. Now I know why I left it…
The season of golden light has started. Long and low I find it to be the most magical time of year. Spring is a frenzy, fall is slower–more contemplative. Trained by years of school starts, it is also a time of possibility–what will I learn and where will it take me?
The days are getting shorter. I’m going out into the garden later in the morning now. The long season of decline has started, once accepted all things become possible again. In my garden I can say with ease, ‘I’ve made my mistakes and it’s time to accept them and move on.’
If only the other areas of my life were so simple.
I never really know what I’m going to write about on these Mondays. I always have the garden image first and then backtrack. I wonder, why did that particular aspect of the garden attract me? I try to be honest in my choice – both from an aesthetic viewpoint as well as being true to the discovery aspects of the project.
Now for the discovery part. I’ve been foggy. My brain full of cobwebs. Mid-summer heat brings me a lack of focus that lifts with the cooler weather. So…on this foggy morning these spiderwebs were the moment.
Finally a cool summer morning after weeks of oppressive heat and humidity. The slowest painter in the world should be finished this week and the most damage will be done to the garden–he left the foundation for last. I am at the 1/2 way mark and I’m still not sure what this exercise is about.
Six months of images. Six months of Mondays. Six months of commitment. Unexpected forks in a path that I thought would be somewhat straight forward. The close observation makes me want to tear it all out and start over. The last 26 weeks (actually only 24 since one didn’t have a photo and the other was a photo taken in Buffalo). I am giving up control here too since I’d rather have even rows of three and the last only has two…maybe that’s the lesson.
I went outside today expecting nothing. The garden is in a state of profound neglect. Heat, no appreciable rain, deer and the slowest painters on the face of the universe have had their effect. What I found suprised me.
There are two small stands of this roadside phlox. It was blooming despite years of neglect when I first moved to this house 12 years ago. When I built the garden I left it to honor the garden’s past. It survives everything. It made me smile.
No garden for me today…just a long drive back to New Jersey. Last night, before I left Buffa10 I went to one last garden. It was behind a small brick Victorian house–the type that is very common here. ‘Hope Blooms’ is a garden for those living with HIV/AIDS as well as a living memorial. I wanted to go there alone, to be silent, and in the long, low light of late afternoon–to remember.
It hasn’t rained here in a month–this is not usual and not unusual in high summer. The house painters painters have made a huge mess. Everything is covered in dust and old chipping paint–despite a rinse with the hose. I’m choosing to view it as part of the flux of a garden instead of lamenting the damage. I will be away while the the painting is done–my next Monday post will be in two weeks and I hope there will be a happier tale to tell.
Heat. Humidity. No rain for several weeks. Plants struggle with my refusal to water them once they’re in the ground-they have to tough it out. This spider web just amazed me with its industry–despite the external conditions. They are obviously not as affected by them as I am.
Summer. Typically this is the time I get to work in my garden. Spring is for clients. Right now it is an overgrown weedy mess desperate for rain. I don’t water unless there hasn’t been rain in a month and we’re going on a few weeks without anything significant in my part of the world.
I have a hypertufa container left over from a show house garden done years ago. It migrates from windowsill in winter to table in spring to garden in summer and then back again. Why? I don’t really know but it’s become a ritual of the seasons…much like summer weeding. On this 1st day of summer I confess a bit of tardiness. It’s still on the table…