Daphne’s gardens in Saratoga Springs is one of my favorite visits during my early spring services. Her unique flair for strategically and tastefully using “whimsy” in her garden always puts a first of the season smile on my face. What is garden whimsy? My working definition is: a non growing element added to a garden to create a stop, pause, and smile break in the flow of the naturally occurring garden design. And “smile” is my operative word!
As a kid, I fondly recall the plastic “pink flamingo” garden adornment in a neighbor’s garden. The hot pink color of the cartoon-like bird posed in a one foot stance poking out from a flower bed promoted a playful…”are we having fun yet?” statement. Garden accents have evolved remarkably over the past 40 years. But I like to think the whimsical nature of this element can truly add to the overall character of a garden.
Daphne has this keen sense of selection and placement that makes you smile as you walk through her gardens. She uses her elements of whimsy low, high, forefront, backdrop and focally in her gardens, much as we design with plant material. She is especially adept at “re-purposing” material in her garden. You will not see the mass produced garden gnome or pink flamingo gracing her gardens. She uses the broken pot, statue, antique iron fence piece, and clever things that peek out at you amid her plants
In designing gardens we often refer to the use of color, texture and space. Whimsical garden elements can serve as the anchor for areas throughout the garden season, a transition from space to space and create a new garden room of sorts. Inside your home, each room takes on a different function and feel. Whimsical garden elements serve that same purpose. They can tie in types of plants, bloom time and colors. Re-purposing materials is an especially creative way to add garden whimsy. I like to take old stuff and use it in my garden for a purpose totally different than it’s intended use. It gives new value to an old door, fence piece, outgrown children’s playhouse, old wagon, wheelbarrow or leaky water feature urn in my gardens. Outside it’s original purpose…I can still get a few more years of “function” out of that item.
So get creative and try a little “whimsy” in your garden. Guaranteed to generate a smile and a much needed pause of the day. As always “keeping garden practices sensible and sustainable”.