Around the Island

Gardening with Galligan: Art in the garden

CAROL GALLIGAN PHOTO |  Statuary at Marika’s on South Ferry Road.
Statuary at Marika’s on South Ferry Road.

Depending on how you feel about art inside the house, those same views should determine how you feel about art in the garden.

Any bed in the garden is the same as a room in the house and any tree can fill in for a wall — it won’t mind if you nail something to it. (The only thing a tree really cares about isn’t being punctured, it’s being strangled. If you tie something around it tight and it has to grow against it, eventually its circulation will be cut off and it will indeed come to an end.)

So any art, from a museum poster to an expensive painting or sculpture that you would have in your living room, deserves a place in your garden.

The likelihood is that you would buy such a piece, not in some place like Macy’s, but in a shop that is individually owned.

Consequently, I offer a few words of advice from my own experience. It is perfectly courteous and within common boundaries to inquire about price. I was taught by a shopping pro that the correct question is, “Are your prices firm?” Obviously, you wouldn’t ask that if you were in Macy’s, but it’s reasonable elsewhere and no one should look down their nose at you if you inquire.

I am working with a shop on the South Fork, even as we speak, for a piece I dearly love and want but cannot afford. It’s very possible that the answer will be as it recently was for me, “Yes, but if you see something you really want, we could work with you.”

Then it’s up to you to make an offer and when doing so, there are several things to bear in mind. The closer you are to the end of the season, the better your chances of getting a deal. Your chances also increase if you offer to pay in cash. Expect a counter offer and then bargain for time to consider. The longer the owner thinks he has a sale, the better your chances that he’ll accept your final offer. Although, if you really truly love something, you could always just go for broke. In my case, literally.

It’s probably good to begin with some kind of plan. Are you looking for a fountain, statuary, wall plaques or special containers? It’s always helpful to limit your directions, although giving in to whim is part of the fun. If it’s calling your name …

Fountains are quite wonderful and I have had more than one that I truly adore, but I have never had one that really worked well. To keep a pump in good working order seems to be beyond my abilities; at the same time a fountain dependent upon rainwater works fairly well. I worry that they attract wildlife but I’ve tried to keep mine away from unprotected beds.

I like sculptures as well and have a number of angels scattered here and there throughout my garden. I don’t know if any of them are actually guarding me, but I have always hoped that, indeed, perhaps one of them was. My suggestion is: be brave! If you love it, and you can work a deal, go for it. Life is short.

Tip of the week: You should be doing your last feeding now. It’s best not to feed after August 15, giving the plant a chance to consolidate growth and get ready for the winter. Despite the fact that it feels like summer, the season is winding down.