GARDEN ART

Posted by Jack on January 19th, 2010 filed in About Ann

The clever commentator on a very pleasant music program recently made a wise comment about the practice of bloggery.  She remarked that blogs are like diets, easy to start but oh so hard to stay with.  It has been far too long since About Ann has had a proper update, though there is much to comment on.  This seems a good time to speak of the expression of Ann’s art as revealed in her garden.

Most artists, and especially plein air painters, seem to have a natural affinity to the visual delight of trees, flowers and natural landscape.  They work, after all, by expressing and interpreting in their paintings and drawings the world in all its shapes, shades and colors, rocks and rills.  An understanding of how plants grow and of the nuances of shape and hue are essential to the creative process.  In the garden the images and colors are endless.  Claude Monet, a painter who taught the world a thing or two about landscapes, is quoted as having said that there are no conflicting, disharmonius colors in nature.   The famed gardens he cultivated at Giverny are indeed proof that the gardner’s palate can be psychedelic in mix and position of colors, bold or subdued, always producing a visually pleasing effect.

Ann’s gardens tend to be more subtle.  She is quite as well known in some circles for her gardening skills and designs as for her painting.  A long-time member of the prestigious Garden Club of America, she has on her walls certificates of award and citation from that organization for special achievement and contribution. Her inspired flower arrangements win prizes.  The gardens surrounding her home in Carmel were the lauded subject of a feature article in Better Homes and Gardens magazine.   Those gardens were designed and planted with careful regard for color match and harmony.  They were constantly groomed and tended, with never a sprout of weed nor a yellowing leaf or tired flower in sight.

Here in Friday Harbor, Ann’s gardening is simpler and more bucolic, reflecting the country location of her property.  Where the deer and the racoons roam, many plantings must be inside a tall fence.  Most of the property is open, rural land with the grass cut short to keep down fire hazard, but with a large peripheral area left natural and uncut to provide cover and nesting areas for for the small birds and animals.  Plants such as rhododendron and lavender that deer don’t consider food provide color accents in beds and borders.  Inside the deer fence, flowering plants compete for space with an assortment of the edibles that thrive in the long growing days of the northern latitudes.  Roses grow alongside asparagus; foxglove and rhubarb do well in the same bed.  Flowers from the garden provide fine displays for still life arrangements through the spring, summer and fall.

Now, in January, there is little to do in the garden.  The roses are pruned, old growth has been cut back, raked and composted.  The garlic has been planted.  Happily, kale, chard and parsley from last summer continue to grow and prosper through a frosty winter so there is still a contribution to the table from the garden.  Only the seed catalogues are getting much attention this month.  Serious gardening doesn’t get underway until the soil temperature is consistently up to about sixty degrees.  Though we are having a mild, relatively  warm winter, the serious work is still about ninety days away.  A new year has come and each day is a little longer than the last.  Can spring be far behind?

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