Monday, June 30, 2014

Garden Ornaments: How much is too much?

I realize that I have been carrying a lot of concrete around with me  for the past 25 years. I always have searched for the old concrete garden ornaments, liking that grainy surface of concrete older than the 1950's. Some additions were antique when I bought them and some lesser quality pieces have grown beautiful with age.

This beauty was a cheap reproduction of the Venus de Milo I found headless in a junk shop in CT. Irresistibly inexpensive because she didn't have a head, she has moved 6 times with me in 25 years! I always felt she would have been worse with her head on, since her facial features would have belied her lesser pedigree. She weighs a ton! What I like now is that she has some great lichen growing on her that gives her have a bit of gravitas.

Another classic I got years ago was this simple bird bath. Again, it was broken and the top has to sit just right on the base, but it has that old pebbly texture to the concrete that you can't buy new today unless you spend a lot of money. I remember as I was collecting these broken and wayward pieces in consignment places, I went once to a real high end statuary maker called Kenneth Lynch and Sons. This establishment is the real deal, the kind of quality you don't see much anymore.  Though  definitely out of my price range, it sure is stunning to look at the hand crafted pieces. They also had a seconds area out back!

Another simple piece was this Japanese lantern. It does fit a votive candle inside, and is quite solid for it's size. In this location I constantly have to trim back the Euonymus to give it some room to shine! This too is getting some lichen on its top, which really makes it settle into the setting.

This little Buddha has a cool whiteish patch on his chest that is prominent when it rains and the rest of him gets wet. Again, mold and age have given character to his plain profile. I try to nestle him in so he looks like he has meditated so long the plants have grown around him.

 My latest piece was from my favorite consignment shop here in Freeport, Pillars. I bought it as an early Christmas gift (yes, my husband liked it too) when they were ready to come down in the price since it was getting on in the fall and probably didn't want to drag it inside. This little round bench fits perfectly in the round herb garden, and has great moss and lichen on it ( I know I seem a little kooky about lichen but did you know it takes 20 years to grow those little masses!?)

The thing you have to watch out for is not having too much in any one place. Too many statues is an easy mistake, like having too much jewelry on all at once. Pieces are better a bit hidden and not within immediate proximity of another piece. They are a focal point for the eye and shouldn't have competition.

I hope not to move from this house anytime (soon), so these  weighty beauties will stay growing more and more part of the garden they inhabit.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Maine Wildflowers in Bloom Now

Bunchberry ( Cornus Canadensis )
 Sometimes, amid the work associated with keeping an old house standing, you get to walk around and smell, well, not yet roses, but some of the lesser wildflowers that punctuate spring. This Bunchberry is so stalwart, I look forward to it every year down in the wet edge of the woodland. In the Dogwood family, you can see the similarities... heavily veined leaves and flowers that are sturdy. It is three inches off the ground in masses.

Mouse Ear Hawkweed ( Hieracium pilosella)

This Mouse Ear Hawkweed grows in large colonies in the grass. Small hairy basel rosettes bear one yellow flower. Sometimes it is confused with the later Indian Paintbrush. Like Pussytoes and Bluets they make up patches in the field.

Mocassin Flower or Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium arietinum)
This is what we are always hoping to find this time of year..the Pink Lady's Slipper! Rare and endangered, they are very particular of their environment. They can be found in  woods with quite a bit of dappled sun, many pines and some decaying matter nearby.

Starflower (Trientalis borealis)
This little Starflower is everywhere in the the Primrose family.

Bluets ( Houstonia caerulea)

In the grass, these patches of Bluets are beautiful and special to those whose eyes are low to the ground. Visiting children can't resist picking huge clumps!

Wild Lily of the Valley ( Maianthemum canadense)
This very unobtrusive, yet sturdy little lily flower can be found in the woods or your shade garden. Keep your eye to the ground next time you are out to see what is blooming in your area.