The lawn at the David-Peese garden.

April 12th, 2008
Spring Flingers’ Secret Revealed

The Japanese have a saying, juu-nin to-iro, literally “ten people, ten colors”. Or to put it into less compact English, “Ask ten people a question and you’ll get ten different answers.” What has fascinated me about reading everyone’s Spring Fling posts is seeing something I experienced through other people’s eyes. One of the reasons I read is to learn to see the world through eyes more observant than mine, to think about things that would not have occurred to me alone. And so, to have almost forty different perspectives of a shared experience is revealing. It shows me how subjective the experience of a garden is. How much we take out of another’s garden is strongly related to how much we put into seeing it.

Some people focused on things I never gave a second glance. They peeked into niches and corners I didn’t notice. Others photographed the same grouping and created a striking composition where I just took a simple snapshot. All these eyes help me see what I missed. These different perspectives inform my own experience. Looking at them together I feel like I’m looking through the compound eye of some giant insect, seeing the world in a way I never saw it before.

For all the differences, there are some similarities. There are photos of bluebonnets and other wildflowers, of newly-made friends laughing as they pose with arms around each other. Many people tried to capture the dramatic descent to the pond at the David-Peese garden, or James David’s exotic voodoo lily, or a careful grouping of stones. I smiled in recognition and thought, “Yes. That appealed to me, too.”

However, one common photo on many of the posts seemed strange to me (although I snapped it myself), a shot of James David’s lawn.

For all our talk about tearing out lawns and replacing them with flowers or vegetables, why were we gardeners drawn to lawn. Did the lawn provide a sense of relief, to come up into the air and light after all our winding through the dark and narrow paths filled with exotics on a steep hillside? Did we need a dose of its strong lines and geometry to counteract the exuberant growth of the rest of the garden?

And yet we were drawn into the space only with our eyes. We all photograph it from the outside. Is there something forbidding about the lawn? something that made us all hang back at the entrance as if we were afraid to enter a sacred enclave? Perhaps a lawn as imposing as this one doesn’t need a sign saying “Keep of the Grass”. Or perhaps after admiring the clear swathe with its distinct lines and sharply cut borders, there was nothing to left to pull the gardener into it and we turned our attention elsewhere.

What do you think?

golden barrel cactus
Mr. Peeps enjoying the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

April 6th, 2008
Mr. Peeps Does Spring Fling

I returned from my recent visit to Las Vegas with a newfound love for cactus and succulents. I couldn’t resist bringing home a golden barrel cactus but the only one I could find that would fit into my carry-on luggage was this novelty plant from the discount plant table at Lowe’s. Although I originally intended to remove the plastic eyes that had been glued on to create “My Peeps, Cactus Buddies”, many people wanted to see a photo of it. So I decided to make Mr. Peeps (as I’ve named him) my Spring Fling mascot.

Mr. Peeps loved the first stop on our Spring Fling tour: the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. There he found all sorts of cactus and succulent cousins to hang out with. It also gave him a glimmer of hope that he might be able to survive in Austin’s humidity.

golden barrel cactus

However, when the Garden Bloggers visited the private gardens of James David and Gary Peese I was forced to leave Mr. Peeps in the car. I told him that the tropical climate of the garden wouldn’t suit him but the truth is that these gardens are just too upmarket for a lowly plant from the Lowe’s discount table.
James David Garden

During the cocktail hour given by Pam/Digging, Mr. Peeps may have had a few too many Mexican martinis. The next thing I knew he was cavorting in Pam’s stock tank pond swooning to the mariachi band.
golden barrel cactus

I know some of you other Garden Bloggers made friends with Mr. Peeps. If you decide to post any photos of him during Spring Fling, leave me a comment and a link.