Friday, August 08, 2008

Not Quite Whimsy, But It Will Have to Do ...

A while back, a lot of my fellow garden bloggers dedicated posts to the Garden Whimsy in their gardens, so this is a very belated, and rather sparse attempt to spotlight the very few whimsical elements of our garden. When I read about the wonderfully creative things going on at sites such as Mr. McGregor's Daughter, Clay and Limestone, Does Everything Grow Better in My Neighbor's Yard, and The Transplantable Rose, I felt a bit like I had been invited to a really cool, sophisticated party, but nobody warned me about the attire, and I showed up unshaven, wearing my Paris Métro T-Shirt and faded jeans. You see, we have so little to qualify as garden whimsy around our place, but now that I've seen some of the cool things others are doing, we've vowed to make some progress in that regard very soon. I've already located two gargoyles (including a never finished one a former student made for me in ceramics class), and a resin cast one I bought at Target a few years ago (LOL!). So unless you count some of the arrangements of the boulders in front, this will bring us up to a whopping three items we'll incorporate into the garden...

So ... here's tonight's subject: our Lion Head Birdbath ... get a good look folks, because other than more rocks, that's our whimsy writ large. This is our ad hoc, yet we think attractive, birdbath constructed from a basin we bought at Lowe's and a Lion's Head that Fernymoss acquired years ago from an architect friend of his father's ... at one time this magnificent lion graced the façade of some long since demolished building in downtown Des Moines ... and oddly enough, it now resides in our back yard, functioning as a bird bath support. The bird bath is the centerpiece of the ring of rocks we have around the blue spruce in the back, and though it's overrun by weeds presently (as it tends to do), you can see what it looks like, engulfed by the savage growth under the tree.

The spruce has always been really problematic area for us to try to get things growing, and even the grass won't grow under it ... we've tried Lupines (they died after the first year), strawberries (they lasted a couple of years), hardy Cyclamen (they never came up) and a few other plants, ... you get the picture. The last couple of years, we haven't even tried (due to demands elsewhere in the garden). Sum result: it's overrun with weeds, again. Fernymoss and I have had several discussions about what to do with this spot, and finally we decided that about the best we can do is to get everything out of there, put down some landscape cloth (which we generally loathe), and cover it up with river rock. We give up trying to find something that will thrive in the soil around this tree. I suppose we could try hardy azaleas, but we're not that fond of them and they do tend to be pricey plants, so ... what we envision now is an area we won't have to plant, weed, or otherwise pay much attention to to keep it looking nice. We figure that we can put appropriate plants grown in pots there for some color and interest ... with the minimum amount of maintenance other than watering, which happens frequently with the bird bath anyway....

At this point, that seems the most prudent way for us to go, since the spruce presents such a challenging growing situation, one that we don't have the time or ambition to try to tackle anymore after our previous efforts, and besides, it could end up looking more attractive than if we had flowers growing there. Container gardening can be a gardener's best friend for difficult situations, so that's the way we want to go with this space in the future. Whether that happens this year or next, I'll make sure to post any progress we make in this most difficult spot in the back garden....

I thought I'd just add a link to what I've been listening to as I wrote this post ... For you Tom Waits fans out there, he's doing a Glitter and Doom tour this summer, and NPR has a handy link to listen to the concert he gave in Atlanta in July. (h/t to my good blogger friend Dada for sending me the link!) If you're familiar with Tom Waits' work, you'll hear a great mix of his older material with new songs from his current tour. If you're not familiar with his work, I'll just say it may be an acquired taste ... Waits has always distinguished himself by his very strange fusion of outright weirdness and blues, and this particular concert is a great showcase for how wonderfully strange his music can be.

Clickeat emptor ...

13 comments:

Mother Nature said...

I love architectural antiques and the way you have used yours.

boran2 said...

I like it the way it is. The controlled disorder (at least it appears that way) makes your whimsy appear a bit more whimsical. I wouldn't change it, but I'm a bit lazy. (Did I say a bit?) I've got a few odds and ends out in our yard/garden including architecturals and a large piece of petrified wood.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi MN,
Glad you like the lion! It really works with the bird bath nicely, we think. I wish we had more things like this, but given it's our only one, we just treasure it more. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
You're too kind about the chaos ... we'll get it tamed, but recently we discovered there's some poison ivy coming up, so that MUST be dealt with soon. It's in one neighbor's yard, and every few years it tries to sneak into ours until we find it and zap it. The only thing we've ever used chemicals on, but we can't have that nasty stuff spreading...

How odd you'd have architecturals! LOL ...Petrified wood sounds really cool too! Sounds like you have more things than we do (and no, we're not going to get a gnome, no matter good Amélie was!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

You have a small lot - 1 whimsical piece might be enough, although if your Target gargoyle looks anything like mine, you definitely have to find a place for it. The lion fountain is wonderful & unique. You're lucky to have such a piece. I commend you for knowing when to throw in the towel & resort to pots. No point in sentencing innocent plants to certain death. Thanks for the link love!

Janet said...

Ahh... Amelie and her Gnome.

We have a "gnome" at work. It's not pretentious. No color and it's well "hidden". It's gnome who is sitting cross-legged and meditating :) It's like a little Budda with a slightly pointy head.

Music for IVG... Been listening to Nils Lofgren's (sp) latest album. Very anti-war, anti-media/regime. Blows my mind when I hear it. And then I wonder why it isn't on the "free" air waves. ;)

Shady Gardener said...

IVG, Way to go! Glad you made your whimsy post. :-) I'm waiting for your leaf birdbath to appear... we made one up here in Michigan this past week. It turned out great! We used a large squash leaf. It is centered in the basin, as we made the concrete bowl larger than the leaf. It's great and I hope to show it once I get home.
Thanks for the link. lol.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi MMD,
Yep, small it is, but we try to make it make do. :-) We probably do have the same or very similar gargoyle ... about 10-12" cast resin, about $7.99 if I recall, lol.

As for containers, we've slowly been moving that way the past few years for things like Geraniums (a friend gives us seed grown ones of hers every spring). Of course there are also the tropical hibiscus, speaking of which, Sun Showers is revving up again after a recent feeding and perfectly hot and humid weather (for a hibiscus!).

Glad you, Shady and (hopefully) Gail didn't mind me linking ... since you're the ones who got me going on this! :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Janet,
That actually sounds like an interesting gnome I might like. I just cringe every time I see a Travelocity commercial since they've ripped off Amélie's. Jeunet should sue them .. grrr.

Not really familiar with Lofgren, though I have heard the name. When I'm not listening to streaming radio from a Paris station (very cool), I'm my same boring self with all the Afro-Egyptian-N. African grooves. Have to confess though, over the past few months I've become a *gasp* Amy Winehouse fan....

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shady!
I guess you are back from your trip now, and sounds like you had some productive fun as well.

We have yet to do a leaf casting, because we're waiting until the green castor can spare a leaf big enough. It's about 3 ft tall now and got fed recently (fish emulsion) so it may be another month or so still. You'll know when that happens. :-)

BTW, I deleted your double post. Comments have really been hinky w/Blogger the last week, and several have told me they've lost some and I've had them eaten at a few of the regular sites. No offense to you, of course.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Shady,
SORRY! That appears to have deleted both of them! Like I was saying about comments being a bit hinky lately ... apologies.

Annie in Austin said...

The lion birdbath is wonderful, IVG... but I don't know if you can get away with counting it as whimsy - too darn artistic for that cat-egory.

We first heard the Glitter and Doom concert early last week - and found the Let it Rain song overwhelming. We woke the next day to hear that Eduardo had suddenly sprung up. No rain reached us, but it did make us wonder what would happen if everyone turned the volume up and played this powerful Tom Waits song. I love that man.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Annie,
Thanks for the compliment, and excusing us from whimsy! :-) We need to get those gargoyles tucked away out there soon so they can show off the rest of the summer.

Glad you enjoyed the Tom Show, I'm amazed he's still up to great stuff after all these years. That was a good mix in that show with some of my faves from his "oldies." I don't think I've bought anything more recently than Mule Variations so I should investigate what he's put out since then.... We're big fans here as well!