Posts Tagged ‘sculpture’

The Tupelo Speaks


Once we asked a well-regarded landscape architect, Roger Washburn, to consult. It turns out we could not afford him but he was generous with his time and ideas. Among other things, he noted our stand of tupelo trees. My tree knowledge is limited so it was noteworthy to me that they were noteworthy to him.

Our tupelos stand behind the weathering Tin Man; they anchor the hanging garden mirror and, here’s the part I’m getting to — they announce the peak of summer.

The tupelos are the first to turn color and drop a leaf and they typically do so in early July, which makes sense from a plant perspective, being on the waning side of summer solstice. This year’s tupelo turn came two weeks late. What now?

Summer Harvest

Hydrangea, phlox, and echinacea

Hydrangea, phlox, and echinacea with “Minuet”

Hydrangea, black-eyed susan, phlox, monarda

Hydrangea, black-eyed susan, phlox, monarda

Our summer’s peak saw a blistering heatwave that started early and ended late. Still, the flowers were heavenly. For example, the hydrangea by the back door trellis had hundreds of blue heads, the kousa dogwood is still in bloom, the monarda and phlox are swarming with bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. The swimming pool has been our respite.

More recently degrees have ranged from low 60’s F to mid 80’s F. And rain.

When it was just too hot outside, we enjoyed the blooming harvest inside. This garden is my joy.

Tin Man Garden Art

Tin Man overlooks the garden, standing near its wooded, western edge. He is flanked by two Tupelo trees and footed by woodland perennials: ferns, trillium, Lenten Rose (helleborus),

and viney ground cover (ajuga reptans). Hint: Don’t ever plant Bugleweed – ajuga. Ever.)

The Tin Man Cometh

Tin Man was created by Peter Beals, an auto body repair man from Kingston, Massachusetts. I purchased his work

at the annual North River Arts Society (NRAS) Festival of the Arts in Marshfield Hills, MA because it appealed to a grand whimsy and the price was right. Standing over 7 feet (2.1 meters) tall, Tin Man has occupied his outpost in my garden since June 2, 2006.

He debuted at the garden party celebrating Kenyatta Braithwaite’s (Weymouth, MA) academic success. I had to disrupt NRAS protocol to liberate Tin Man in advance from the Festival; accomplished with support from our friend and NRAS kingpin, David Brega, just in time for Keny’s party.  Tin Man has attended all of our backyard events ever since.

Ars Longa Vita Brevis*

Gazing across the quiet garden he is stalwart, with a look of permanence and solidity.

But his profile reveals another truth – Tin Man is shallow and insubstantial. Almost two-dimensional, like Flat Stanley.

He takes our parties seriously. He attracts attention, yes, and teasing. But teasers poke fun fondly and he’s never offended.

*Ars longa, vita brevis (Hippocrates), commonly translated as “art is long, life is short.”

Tin Man Zeitgeist

Postured, impermanent, intent, revealing and deceiving. Tin Man was one of the first non-functional additions to my garden. He has his own story and he’s sticking to it. What story does your garden have? Share it!

Sarabande: Kinetic Garden Art

Sarabande is a mobile – kinetic art made from copper, bronze and aluminum, standing six feet tall with a six foot radius. She was conceived to replace a withered dwarf maple that once stood in the center of the garden. Whimsical wind mobiles, like garden sculptures, provide vertical and horizontal contrast — plus movement — to the surrounding perennials.

A Garden Dancer Comes to Life

Named for the courtly dance and musical movement from the Baroque era, Sarabande is the work of kinetic artist, Vladimir Barsukov (Perpetual Mobiles) from whom I took a mobile-making class in November, 2009. You might think of Alexander Calder, an American mobile artist whose work is in the Guggenheim Museum (NYC).

Sarabande was almost a year in the making because Barsukov had to experiment with ideas and materials that would scale to larger proportions and perform well outdoors – wind mobiles can have a rougher life. Barsukov invented a sturdy pivot to give the mobile the needed “degrees of freedom.”

Besides freedom of movement, a mobile requires precisely balanced elements that communicate with each other, and sensitivity to slight, animating air movements.
Outdoors, a mobile must maintain its responsiveness while coping with extremes of wind, weather and elements; it must float on gentle breezes and ride out coastal gales. And do it all gracefully.

Installing the Mobile

I saw the first prototype at Barsukov’s Cambridge studio in July, 2010. While the artist completed the final design, I had to figure out how to keep a mobile garden sculpture permanently straight and plumb.  Googling

Install flag pole” gave me a suitable plan — I used: a post hole digger, gravel, concrete mix, wooden brace, with a carpenter’s level to set the holding tube in a solid base, and… voila! I had a stable home for my mobile (a mobile home?).

The dwarf maple stood leafless in its last years. Stark and twiggy, it became a favorite perch for small birds. Chickadees and humming birds would alight on the end of a tiny dead branch to rest; it was our snag tree. It toppled of its own accord just before Sarabande’s installation on October 30, 2010. Sarabande was too broad for that spot so we installed her farther back, overhanging the dwarf mountain laurel (kalmia latifolia v. ‘Elf’), Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’) and daphne. Originally a backyard patio idea, Sarabande moves gently and more subtly far away, where her long arm and large sweep complement her surroundings.

Reflections on Sarabande

As a foray in garden art, Sarabande makes quite a statement. A captive prima ballerina, both  sturdy and lithe. Across the garden stands Tin Man looking on. In the spring, when the woods behind fill in with green, I may install a reflective background to highlight Sarabande’s dance-like movement.  Here’s one idea I’m thinking of, using mirrored window panes:

With Sarabande, Tin Man now has a garden partner.Tin Man - by Peter Beals, Kingston MA
What moves your garden? Share the vision.