My garden is not one that could be considered “artful.” Actually, I’m not sure it’d be considered a “garden,” as often as I change it out and try something new, primarily because I’ve neglected something or managed to plant it in the wrong spot. But I’ve filled it with lovely plants and an assortment of oddities that, frankly, wouldn’t make sense to anyone but me. And that’s fine. It’s my garden.
The art in my garden, if you can call it that, was (somewhat) carefully chosen to reflect my mood or my heritage or my whim at the time of purchase. It’s not intended to please anyone but myself, although there have been a few neighbors who’ve jokingly threatened to sneak over and steal a couple of items. At least I think they’re joking. They wouldn’t be able to lift several pieces – mostly concrete rabbits – and for that, I’m grateful. But sometimes my “art” has caused a bit of a flap. Here’s an example:
Rabbit proudly greets visitors to my home. He started out standing in the front garden, comfortably nestled among the shrubs that the homeowner’s association requires of each of townhome. Over the years he’s worn many hats, depending on the season or the holiday – in winter he sports a rather dashing Elmer Fudd-type hat, complete with ear flaps (it gets cold here) – and he served our little cul-de-sac proudly. That is, until there was a change in the board of directors, and the landscape committee chair decided that she didn’t like “all that nonsense in people’s gardens.”
I’d like to insert here that I’m fortunate to live in an area where there’s truly no “nonsense” on anyone’s property. Neat and tidy, sometimes to the point of being boring. However, one day I was greeted in my driveway by a gaggle of neighbors, each of whom held a clipboard. Lead by our exalted Landscape Committee Chair, they whispered among themselves until I asked if I could help them. One of them pointed at Rabbit, who at the time was wearing a foam rubber goldfish on his head, and said, “Uh … our leadership has some concerns.” Our Leadership then stepped up and said, “This will have to go.” When I asked why, she stated, “I don’t get it.”
In the months following, there was a bit of debate throughout our development … wait. That’s not accurate. There was an uproar. Poor Mrs. Committee Chair was shouted down at each HOA meeting as she tried to dictate what kind of garden ornaments should be allowed and which should be banned for, as she stated, “poor taste.” Asked repeatedly how she defined “poor taste,” she’d repeat: “Whatever I don’t like.”
Now, I can be just as critical as the next neighbor and have been known to mutter under my breath, “Really? You actually paid for that?” And I’m sure there are a number of folks who just don’t appreciate rabbits, especially those wearing hats. But unless it’s lewd or otherwise violates our association’s bylaws, it’s not up to me to judge someone else’s taste. And, as our board president finally exploded at Mrs. Committee Chair, “For God’s sake, Ellen, shut up! We cannot legislate art!”
Bless his heart.
Art enriches our lives. If it must have a stated purpose, that would be it. Not every item or object will be agreeable to each and every one of us, and that’s okay. I’m not fond of Ellen’s white plastic swan, but that’s her choice and she loves it. Is it art? I highly doubt that anyone would really call it that, except for Ellen. But I highly doubt anyone would call my collection of silliness “art.” Nevertheless, it belongs in my garden.
Ellen also hated the old wooden gate I planted in the back, placed to support some climbing roses. “It’s peeling!” she yelped. Yup, it’s peeling. And it’s mine.