June 6th is one of the many days I think of my Uncle Teddy, the man who introduced me to gardening at the tender age of 6. Because of him, I began my long journey into gardening. I’ve written about him in previous posts.
This year on June 6th, I opened my garden to benefit the Huntington Historical Society. It was so fitting that it fell on Uncle Teddy’s birthday since, in the garden, he and I are entwined together. For five hours straight I taught, explained, identified plants, offered historical references, shared my knowledge, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Between 200-250 people came to enjoy my creation.
I helped them to understand that my garden is one of my artworks. It is an installation, an assemblage of art, plants, hardscape, and sculpture. It is a conceptual work that embraces the garden as a metaphor of the universe. There is a community of cooperation, of symbiosis and that of opposition, of parasitism in the garden. There is a quest for resources, for nutrition, water, sunshine, and shade between the multiple worlds of humans and animals, plants, pollinators, insects, and the microorganisms of bacteria and fungi. There are lifecycles of birth, maturity, senescence, death, and rebirth. There is a cyclical life experienced by all in the days, the seasons, and the years.
My garden has two major themes beyond this metaphor. I designed my garden as a journey. It must be walked through to be fully appreciated. There are no dead-ends, just options at each intersection for the choice of a different journey. No visit through the garden will ever be the same. The paths selected, the time of day, the week, the season, the year make for new appraisals. New adventures. New sights to be seen and new revelations to experience. New meditations on life to be contemplated.
Repetitively featured throughout the garden are circles and spheres. Circles have appeared in my art for decades in many different mediums and imagery. To me, they are the beginning, Eve’s apple. They are Woman. They are the enclosing arms of protection & nurturing. These circles are present in the navigation of the garden, the design of flower beds, sculptures placed strategically in vignettes, as well as found objects collected for decades and hidden as treasures between and around the plantings.
I call this my “girlie” garden. The plant material is practically devoid of sharp pointy thorns & leaves. I look for soft and frilly foliage when selecting plants to include. The colors are pinks and pastels. I think of little girls spinning in their frilly birthday dresses with joyous abandon when I pick my plants. They are safe plants spreading a gentleness of spirit.
Talking with people about the meanings and thoughts behind the choices in my garden opened many eyes on the garden tour. I don’t think anyone who visited the garden could have enjoyed it more than me, except my long gone Uncle Teddy. It all began with him. And I thank him every chance I get.