Very old photo of newly sculptured piece created from copying old architecture. The artist’s link is here.
Note: I apologize to those of you who commented on previous blog posts because I didn’t see your comments. I’ve now approved your comments. Thank you!
I have begun four different unpublished blog posts that meander in four different directions. Oh well. Maybe I’ll finish them and maybe not.
I realize not all gardeners see things in the same way. If we have different tastes in our garden styles and décor, it’s okay. Some of us seek low-maintenance. Others want formality. Some pursue a smooth contemporary look while others like a wild look (me) by using natives or creating an exuberant cottage garden. None of these styles are necessarily better than the other.
Aside from garden style, gardeners also hold different tastes in their décor.
So when I tell you of my pet-peeve, YOU—especially if you are an American–may not see it as an issue.
I think gardens benefit from focal points and garden art. Magazines and designers certainly say so. Here again, preferences differ.
My father is Dutch, and I lived in Holland for two formative teenage years even though I was born in America to an American mother. Because of my two years in Europe, I’m familiar with OLD architecture. I’m not speaking of “old” in what Americans consider old. Many Americans think old is 30 years—as in something that was made in 1980—I kid you not. However, I’m talking about “old” as in over 100 or 500 or 800 years. I find I’m drawn to old architecture and older forms of garden decor made with earthy materials such as clay, concrete, stone, and iron. If I could purchase history to put in my garden, I would. I also like unique and/or quirky pieces of garden art.
My reality is I live in a country with a shorter history than its European and continental cousins. Furthermore, in the part of the US I live in (Texas), there are few aged hardscapes compared to what can be found in England or Italy, and even fewer easily found aged items to use as garden art—statues, chimney pots, mill stones etc.
Honestly, I am so very envious of the countries who have long histories with artists and craftsman who then and NOW still make lovely pieces to sell.
I’m not saying the U.S. doesn’t have artists, but finding garden decor that I like within my budget isn’t that easy.
I believe the making of art is a tradition in other countries, and one that seems to be dying in the US. Where are our real craftsman and artists? I don’t see them much. Why don’t we value them more? Further, it’s sad in my opinion, that unless you have deep pockets, you can’t afford “good” art in the U.S.
Addressing my pet peeve point: For the average home gardener, US garden decor seems to consist of mass-produced resin pieces made in China.
Now I know many fine people who have resin statues, plastic animals and plastic furniture in their gardens such as plastic gnomes, fairies, ducks, Adirondack resin chairs etc. I am not faulting these people
But the truth is I don’t like plastic “anything.” Will these plastic pieces last hundreds of years? Will they last two? No. Are they really art? No. But this is what the public is offered by places like Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, big box stores, catalogues and so forth.
You might comment that I’m looking in the wrong places for interesting long-lasting garden decor—and you’re right–but I have to say the “right” places to find terracotta, fine ceramics, concrete items (not massed produced) and iron pieces don’t exist where I live. Perhaps there is a garden nursery or two that takes garden art on consignment or an auction that sells antiques, but I don’t see this much. And I see very few local artists who produce art specifically for the garden.
Yes, I could buy a concrete cowboy boot at my local big box store. It would match another 100 houses in my area with a concrete cowboy boot in the yard. Is this art? Is it American? Is this a unique piece? I suppose that depends upon who you ask.
Why are we primarily offered plastic or flimsy metal pieces to put in our gardens? Do we like plastic that much?
Maybe the problem is we, Americans, haven’t been exposed to what beautiful art really is. We aren’t taught that it has value and merit.
Another thought: If you were brought up by a working-class family in a working-class area, it’s doubtful you would be exposed to much old-world garden décor or any art of any kind. Makes sense. Thus, everyone goes out and buys plastic because that is what there is an abundance of. Our craftsman (the few that are left) don’t make these items. The Chinese do.
Another WordPress blogger in a different country posted a photo of her lovely terracotta dragon. I could never find a terracotta dragon made here (in Texas) and if I did, it would cost a bazillion bucks. (I did find one made of copper that still cost close to a bazillion.)
Question: Are other countries bombarded with plastic garden décor? Is their garden “art” made by China too? I’ve yet to see plastic pieces showcased in lovely English or Italian gardens.
And most sadly, did we Americans pick our new president (based on our upbringing) in the same manner that we pick out plastic garden décor? Was he the best and cheapest Wal-Mart had to offer, and we just didn’t know any better? (Okay, I apologize because this is NOT a political blog.)
Finally, if I were to put any of these fine copper gargoyles or dragons on my roof with the exception of this one, the local people would look at me funny. Plastic garden art seems to be the status quo, and NOT just here in my small town. Big city folks have plastic stuff in their yards too. Then again, this is America, and like it or not, people (at least at this moment) are free to choose both the garden art and the president they like the best.