Monday, November 2, 2009

Fictitious Animals and Their Gardens

Does anyone remember the days when Garden Design magazine came printed on brown paper?  Neither do I, but my Aunt Joyce gave me some vintage clippings (the 80's, I think) of a few enchanting articles and thought I would share.  This feature highlighted the gardens described in children's books and I couldn't help but be fascinated by two very different styles. 
One, the "Dear Old Briar-Patch" exemplifies exactly what a native habitat garden should do.  Bunnies, birds, spiders and mice (well, maybe the mice aren't so good) cavort under the safety of an overgrown garden.  I tend  to take two views of this- providing a space for wildlife to make a home in the garden, but also imagining making a little burrow for myself to hide away from the freeway noise.  In my design work, these somewhat opposing goals become part of a larger goal:  make a place for wildlife to play, but not at the expense of its human inhabitants. 

I have to admit, though that my absolute favorite is this illustration from "The Wind in the Willows" and I might just have to walk down to the library to check out and read for myself.  Here's an excerpt: 

     "On the walls hung wire baskets with ferns in them, alternating with brackets carrying plaster statuary-        Garibaldi, and the infant Samuel, and Queen Victoria, and other heroes of modern Italy.  Down one side of the fore-court ran a skittle alley, with benches along it and little wooden tables marked with rings that hinted at beer mugs.  In the middle was a small round pond containing goldfish and surrounded by a cockle-shell border.  Out of the centre of the pond rose a fanciful erection clothed in more cockle-shells and topped by a large silver glass ball that reflected everything all wrong and had a very pleasing effect."

Ok, that's it.  I'm going to have to make an underground garden with cockle-shells and plaster statues! 


  1. ...a fanciful erection clothed in more cockle-shells...
    Is that like a lingam, only covered in shells? What an interesting thought. I can't wait to see your interpretation of it.

  2. I think it's the sculpture found near the center of the drawing with the gazing ball topping it. But I like the idea of Mr. Mole throwing rose petals over a lingam!

  3. ....make a place for wildlife to play, but not at the expense of its human inhabitants.

    how to integrate living in a forest devoted to native flora and fauna and at the same time honor the fact that i am paying the mortgage has been a conscious, daily endeavor almost since i arrived. when i arrived at glen alder there was a path system to the various areas of the property. i have widened most of these paths and closed off some. i rarely have to ask people to stay on the paths and have come to think people prefer paths to open terrain. you can see it all from the paths if you just follow the sun beams. i do wander off the paths while monitoring for reseeding of non natives and removing duff from moss but rarely for just a casual meander. i never feel restricted.

  4. Nicely said, Linda! I think it's so easy to get caught up in making the garden habitable to creatures, but forget that you'll want to spend time there, too. Paths are a great idea- a way to view wildlife, but not twist your ankle on a pinecone! It sounds like you've designed them well since you never feel like you're missing out on something.