28 March 2010

Incredible Hulk Hands

Physical changes to the body occur at this time of year. Muscles that last saw action in October are called upon to wake up. Skin tone and muscle tone begin to change, responding to the initial demands that will once again toughen them up for use in the great outdoors. My hands change too.

After my garden-a-thon yesterday, I wonder how many gardeners get the same Hulk Hands following a season of indoor winter diversions. They seem to feel larger, more muscular, and certainly tougher one day after being in the spring garden for the first time. They even turn green during the summer after working around tomato plants. Today, those hands feel like they could pull up those oak tree saplings I struggled with yesterday. After one round of picking up holly clippings, leaf debris, and working the pruning shears, the hands and skin are tough as the best garden gloves.

I use gloves occasionally, but find them bulky, clumsy, and difficult to maintain (keep clean.) On they go, and off they go, over and over depending what task is being performed. It's easier to keep them off. Dirt always find its way inside them.

Dirt also finds its way under the fingernails. The Hulk never had a good manicure. My summer gardener's nails end up being short stubby, worn down stumps out of necessity to eliminate a place for my garden soil to hide; much like American colonists who shaved their heads to prevent head lice from hiding there.

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: ice follies & tete-a-tete daffodils, red emperor tulips, magnolia,
    cornell pink rhododendron

23 March 2010

Tiffany Goes Green

While on the late summer visit to the Chicago Art Institute, a Tiffany lamp caught my attention. Art nouveau design often contained motifs with anamorphic features and those imitating nature. This lamp, beautiful in the colors alone, contained several references to nature and plants. The lead between the glass is more than the structural came between pieces, becoming the veins of the leaf cells on the shade. Nature is not only expressed in the lamp shade, but throughout entire lamp, from the turtleback inlaid base, to the 'snail antenna' shade supports, to the flower bud finial at the top.

Tiffany Studios produced several lamp designs with the dragonfly motif, but this one was most interesting because of its large size and its uniform green/blue colors.

01 March 2010

Formal Proposal

Looking for some garden item to write about at this time of year that I might find useful in the future, I reviewed travel photos form last year. The autumn trip to Chicago included a visit to Millennium Park as indicated in a previous post 13.11.2010. The paved walks, stairs, furniture, planter shape, park lights, plan, and relation to the city all speak in a common formal voice. However, informal grasses and perennials were integrated into the park's planting beds in an creative way.

The perimeters of each planter were trimmed with uniform, neat hedges and annuals arranged in rows that reinforced the planter's shape and formal characteristics. The centers however, contained natural groupings of the taller, more conspicuous offerings such as ornamental grasses, buddleia, cannas, and vines.

I was impressed with this ingenious way to combine untidy plants with differing textures, densities, and growth habits into a formal garden arrangement. Let a formal uniform border surround and contain the noisy, unconforming plants inside.