Oh yeah, I got it. Geegaws, doodads, tchotchkes–yeah, I got whimsy. I think whimsy should be a part of every garden. Gardens are about many things, but they are certainly about delight, about fun, about creating a treat for the eyes. Actually, they should transcend those simple goals and be a treat for all the senses–including the sense of humor.
Whimsy is an easy way to get there. While I understand the notion that plants can be whimsical, in my run-amok garden, which lately borders more on being a plant zoo, there are lots of oddly sculptural or Dr. Seussical kinds of plants, so I lean more to using objects to create whimsical vignettes. And whimsical objects, to me, represent one end of a continuum, the other end being, say, some Dale Chihuly glass scuplture or frolicking Italian stone cherubs–Art, with a captial A. A gnome, for example, is whimsical-even if it’s a Gnome Chomsky-while a massive Haddonstone urn is, hopefully, captial A Art. Whimsy at its best has a folk art quality. It’s homemade, humorous, and clever.
Like Fran, I too see faces. Whether it’s my multi-visaged pot topped with a fiber-optic grass fright wig. I like having human type elements in the garden, especially those that have some kind of quasi-mystical, primitive Idol quality about them. I got zillions of ideas about these kinds of elements from my travels in Indonesia, where occult guardian spirits protect virtually everything from rice fields to family compounds. They inspired my “Brothers From Another Planet”, which I chainsawed from a fallen tree-heck, it was easier than carting off the whole trunk.
I also saw some stickmen, who seem as if they may be related to my “Brothers” in Eve Thyrum’s Wilmington, DE garden, a place that’s full of whimsy.
How about Eve’s fish chairs?
Or her crazy bird nest with its big blue egg?
I’ve got thing for birds too, and like to see my little Mexican toucan perched among our tropical plants. I thinks he’s a cheery companion, plus he reminds me of my travels and adds, in his own small way, to the idea of the imaginary country in which my garden is located.
Placing objects in a garden–whether they are Art or whimsy–is often challenging. I like to use them as players set into a tableau of plants, using the living materials as a kind of stage for the inanimate. But the best piece of advice I ever heard about using ornaments of any kind in the garden was simplicity itself: Position them so that you can see only one at a time.
Yes, as the garden below suggests, there is such a thing as too much fun.