Friday, June 17, 2011

The center of it all

Marc Rosenquist's bronze is most prominent in late winter when all the herbaceous perennials and grasses have been burned and cleared away, leaving a flat, largely empty field. Ironically, it becomes even more important in the summer, when the rapid plant growth makes it increasingly hard to see.

As the plants grow around it like a slowly rising flood, its fat, vertical presence becomes the focal point of the garden, a point of reference that plays with one's sense of scale--it's much larger than you think it is--making perception of relative sizes more ambiguous, but at the same time making it easier to judge distances, actually making space more visible. I guess you could say it introduces a perceptual playfulness into the garden.

It's so different from anything else, it exudes a sense of mystery. It seems both alien and at home, dramatically contrasting with the soft plant materials, yet echoing their shapes in permanent form.

The color is very different from the colors of the plants (at this time of year), but it's the same as the color of the house and the stone walls and the bark of the trees pressing in at the edge of the garden.

Mounded leaves of Silphium terebinthinaceum (Prairie dock) and Rudbeckia maxima have similar size and shape, though I think their similarities actually highlight their differences.

Even the lacy verticals of Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) and Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) share similar visual resonance with the bronze, though they are certainly very different in form.

Do I go too far if I relate the bronze sculpture to  my circle of red logs amid tall cedars (Juniperus virginiana)? I don't think so. If you see curves and lines in the abstract, just about anything in the garden relates to this object. Like musical theme and variations, thematic statement and answer.

Likewise the mounds of Miscanthus, daylilies ...

... the rounded box balls ... and across the path, the more generic mounds of mixed perennials with emerging spikes of Filipendula rubra, Silphium perfoliatum, Salix alba 'britzensis'  and Thuja in the background.

... even the purplish color of the Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecrecker' relates to the browns of the sculpture.

Moving away from that central point, the rising path beside the pond goes off into the woodland garden ...

... where a turn back shows you the wide prairie field ...

... and in the middle of it all, Marc's sculpture, still visible from a distance ...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Two months of change

Early April ...

... to June ... quite a change, don't you think? Scary ...

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Garden Diary: Mid-May

I was busy and neglected to post some mid-May photos, so here goes ... The garden is quickly changing from a flat plain into an undulating mass of planting, making a new landscape as the individual plant forms emerge from the earth.

On this rainy day, we start in the woodland garden looking down toward the main prairie garden ...

Ground covers are essential to controlling weeds. Here Ajuga 'Caitlan's Giant' and Sweet Woodruff (Galium orodatum).

Planting the utility area, where piles of chipped trees were stored for years, with Carex pennsylvanica, Pulmonarias, ferns, Helleborus foetidus ... who knows what else? Have to see what works here.

Out into the rain soaked prairie ... looking down the long pond.

Ligularia japonica ... it's becoming a magnificent specimen ... three others haven't attained this size, but they get less water ...

Massed plantings of Filipendula rubra 'Venusta' and Iris virginica against a background of horsetail (Equisetum arvense), which become significant structural elements as they grow larger ...

These giant coneflowers (Rudbeckia maxima) have become a signature plant in the garden. They're everywhere, even starting to self-seed. I read they like dry conditions, but they have thrived for years in my wet clay. Off to the left, one of two spreading colonies of Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker'. The color makes them a dominant presence in the garden.

Shaggy boxwoods and bergenia ...

One of three Gleditsia triacanthos 'Sunburst' for early color.

Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis), a native ...

Marc Rosenquist's bronze, which is becoming an organizing feature of the garden (more on that in another post). Its dominating presence draws the eye, and its shape strongly echos many plants (particularly the more formal shapes of Thuja and box).

More Rudbeckia maxima (there are many such surprises) ...

Another source of early gold, Euphorbia palustris, with Miscanthus ...

And bracken ... it was here before I was, and it will stay. Beautiful form and autumn color.

The mid-garden sitting area, added last year. That wretched Magnolia 'Little Gem' is coming out, to be replaced by ... what? Grasses? Cercis canadensis 'Hearts of Gold'?

A self-seeded Silphium perfoliatum, which came up last year, has grown like topsy, as they say.

Many of these self-seeded Silphium laciniatum have appeared this year. Can they take the competitive pressure and grow? I don't know so must wait and see.

Another self-seeder, Eupatorium perfoliatum, a native that just appeared three years ago.

A planted Sanguisorba, amid native Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).

Views from a bedroom window.


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