Wednesday, July 23, 2008


As I found out from Dirt Therapy (I love that name, would be the best self-help book ever written), Gardening Gone Wild has designated July whimsy month: ok, it's July 23rd and the design workshop project is due to change, but for me, getting my project in 7 days before the absolute deadline is almost like getting it in early. GGW equates whimsy with humor and a little bit of humility, an idea I like, especially as it applies to those gardeners among us who are hobbyists and especially especially as it applies to those of us with, umm, planning issues. Because whimsy also suggests capriciousness, which sounds like a bad thing--it's the way people with Dayrunners (like Salix) occasionally think of people who use their Dayrunners as a source of scratch paper when they need to jot down a note that they will tear out and then probably lose anyway (that would be me). That's one of the reasons I started this blog--I know where my entries are. Is there a blog called "Blog Therapy"?

But ironically enough, the whimsy in my garden is not of my doing--it comes from Salix, the Garden Curmudgeon, and nature itself. Here's the most notably "whimsical" element, a gift of an ice storm in the late 90's (before we moved in):

This bent tree looms about 30 feet over my white garden (its roots are directly behind my white arch), and my little camera doesn't capture its full impact. But it's bent at maybe a 60-degree angle (the result of weeks of ice on its branches), and a more aesthetically-minded gardener might have taken it down. But Salix and I are somewhat reluctant to take down trees, especially the trees that survived Hurricane Isabel, and, well, this one looks like a horse. And we love horses. And so it stays and watches over us and the gardens.

Of course, horses are herd animals, and Salix thought our horse tree needed company.

Salix's whimsy is inevitably practical--this horse is also a weathervane (of course, we have trees to tell us which way the wind is blowing, but I suppose it never hurts to have a second opinion). There is, by the way, no wind blowing today--this horse probably hasn't moved since the weekend--but we're hoping for a blow out tonight and the lovely rain that comes with it.

Salix likes color--this is one of his first contributions, now a guardian against deer in the tropical garden:

This bunch of achillea millefolium escaped from our garden crane's "wings." The deer fear him, and he stakes the floppy yarrow--he's no Ranunculus, but he does protect his little bit of turf.
Another bit of whimsy from the Curmudgeon and Co., one of my favorite things:

It's called "Crown of Thorns"--euphorbia milii splendens. I've had it for almost ten years--it was about 6" tall when GC&C first gave it to me. It's tender, so I have to drag it in every September, but it never seems to mind the shift indoors. The little teacup in the plant was another present from Salix. A thunderstorm knocked some deck furniture on top of the plant--it survived with only one bent stem, but the teacup broke. The plant is poisonous, by the way, though I would think that the thorns would keep any animal from trying to taste it (Ranunculus won't go within five feet of it).

So whimsical as I am by nature, most of the whimsical things in the garden are gifts, all the more precious to me because they are. The whimsy I'm responsible for is in the house--though even here, friends make their presence known. The gardener on my refrigerator is a throwback to Colorforms (remember those?) and the lovely couple next to her was a wedding present:

Sorry about the flash. I'm getting a new camera for my birthday. My friend Lisa, by the way, says blogging is a gateway drug--next thing you know, it's a better camera, photography classes, an MFA program . . .

Tomorrow, something on the Bloom Day I missed. The next one's noted in my Dayrunner.


Frances, said...

Hi Cosmo, I love the whimsy in your garden, but really really love the wedding present of the skeletal couple on your fridge. I agree that the blog is a good way to keep track of your own garden, its successes and failures. Therapy?, absolutely. Great title.

Frances at Faire Garden

Gail said...


Isn't whimsey in the garden the best... and I like your guardian! We may have to deploy one..we are starting to see deer move into the neighborhood! Yikes! Your refrigerator must be cousin to ours! Although you have a little more white showing ours is also covered with so much fun stuff!

I love the 'gateway drug' and blogging comment from Lisa! Perfect and oh, so true!


tina said...

Gateway drug? Funny, funny!

Entangled said...

Cosmo, I've been thinking about constructing a scarecrow (scaredeer?). Your guardian is great inspiration - way beyond my abilities, but I'm going to keep that image in my mind.

Roses and Lilacs said...

HI Cosmo, enjoyed seeing your "whimsy".

LOL, I can testify to your closing remarks. Blogging is a gateway drug that leads to all kinds of excesses. Camera upgrades alone can send anyone into bankruptcy. Then there is the problem of time. To scrub the floors and wash the windows or sit and blog. That is the question.

Phillip said...

You are right, blogging is a great way to keep a record of your garden. In fact, I just realized that I haven't made an entry in my book journal in months. The swaying tree would drive me nuts, but like you, it takes a lot for me to cut one down.

Cosmo said...

So blogging is going to be great for my garden and bad for my budget (and my time management!--never a strength as it is). Seriously, for those of you facing deer, try Liquid Fence if you haven't. Deer are like horses--they're creatures of habit and they never forget anything. So if they taste something good in your garden, they'll be back everyday (and often at the exact same time). The Liquid Fence "teaches" them that the good stuff has gone away--but you have to keep up with it, especially if they get a plant before you spray (because the plant will be on the path they've learned so they'll check when the repellant smell starts to wane). The kind I get is also a fertilizer--it's expensive, but it's really saved the garden.

Moving things work well, too--the little horse weather vane moves in the wind and scares them away. True to Salix, my whimsy is practical!

So blogging will be a good thing--and Bloom Day is a brilliant idea--an ongoing record of what blooms when. I love visiting your sites.

Eve said...

That is so funny. I just got our college, summer courses list in the mail and mentioned to Billy, that I might attend the photography class. And I have already put in a hint for a better camera for Christmas. I figure by bringing it up this early and mentioning it every day, he will remember. LOL

The crown of thorns reminds me of the one my Grandmother had. I thought it was the strangest plant.

Rose said...

Salix may be a "Garden Curmudgeon," but his contributions to your garden say otherwise:)

Blogging as a gateway drug--now that's one I haven't heard before! So true, though:) I just received a new camera for Christmas, but it doesn't have much of a zoom, so now I want a new one. And a photography class would help....and I need some flowers just like those I saw in someone's blog...

MrBrownThumb said...

Cool post. I agree with the sentiments that using a blog to track your garden is a good idea. I can look back and see when things bloomed or when I bought something new or when something died.

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