CAROL GALLIGAN PHOTO | I brought this fountain to the Island from Westchester when I moved. It comes apart into several pieces and each can easily be moved by one person with upper arm strength. I light it up in the fall through Christmas, celebrating the early dark.
While we are waiting for Montauk daisies to bloom, it might be a good time to stop and think about garden art. We certainly think about the walls inside our homes and make plans for them. There are actually walls in the garden that can be treated in the same way, even though they look quite different and we don’t usually think of them as walls. I’m referring to trees and fences.
A tree will not object at all if you drive a very large nail, or actually any number of them, into the trunk, thereby turning it into a wall on which you can hang anything you want. The only thing you cannot do is circle the trunk completely, especially with anything that will dig in, like wire. It is possible to cut off the tree’s circulation, thereby strangling it, probably over a long time, but strangling it nonetheless.
And, of course, what you hang has to be outdoor-proof. With the number of composites, the resins that look like stone that are now available, finding pleasing materials has never been easier. Although stone can be used as well.
I have found that fishing line is the best product to use for hanging things outside. I have one large, 12 inch-square plaque made of stone that I am very fond of. I know it sounds silly, but it has Grecian maidens dancing, and I have it hanging from a fence, bordered with ivy on both sides; the fishing line is invisible and it looks quite nice. I also have an altar piece with several angels mounted on a tree in front of the house.
To move on from art to what I think of as the equivalent of indoor furniture, there are many options there as well — think fountains, statuary, birdbaths, sundials and ceramic pots. All of these can be used in whatever way you want and wherever you want. No rules apply, although there are some caveats.
First and foremost, and I don’t know what the proper term for this would be, perhaps aesthetics, but what I really mean is “how much do you like it,” because these pieces are likely to be both heavy and expensive. The latter term needs no explanation; but if you are thinking about “heavy,” bear in mind that usually involves both trucks and men.
There used to be a shop in Southampton, I think it was called Mano a Mano, which I think means “made by hand” in Spanish. Years ago, when I lived in Westchester, I bought a piece of stone statuary there; it was billed as “made by a Zuniga artisan,” presumably an apprentice in the workshop of the famous Mexican sculptor. Of course, if it had been made by Zuniga, it would have cost more than the house. As it was I could barely afford it, but fell in love with it. And you know how that goes. It arrived in Westchester on a truck with three guys; fortunately, there were two men on hand mowing the lawn. The five of them managed. Barely. When I moved here, I left it behind in my daughter’s loving care, because I couldn’t face another five guys and this time, an uphill climb.
I think probably we can go on with garden art for another week before we turn to those subjects that close out the season. This year we should spend some time, before turning to holiday gifts for gardeners, with some famous plantsmen from yesteryear, whose courage has brought us so many of the plants that we take for granted now.