Garden Art and Art Gardens

I’ve been adding to my garden art lately. First I tackled the tree jewelry that I made last year. They just were never quite right. I’d strung them on fishing line that was invisible. In the end, I didn’t like the look and the birds were bumping into it. The fake flowers were surprisingly good at catching the wind and the beads weren’t heavy enough to keep them from blowing the strings all over the place and knotting the whole length of string into the tree branches.

This time I used more glass bottle beads but I added even glitzier beads and little bells. I strung them on thin acrylic yarn that fades from green to purple and back. I used the same fake flowers, but added fishing sinkers for more weight. I was hoping for the perfect balance that would result in just enough gentle movement to ring the bells and turn the whole tree into a wind chime. Alas, the weight is winning and I’ve barely heard a tinkle. They look good, though, and they’re not strung up in the branches in knots. I’ve decided that looking at the beautiful bells lets them ring in my mind, but it’s not quite the same.

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I also added a new kind of tree jewelry. Back in May, Patchwork, the nonprofit where I work, was broken into. The most significant thing that was stolen were all sorts of keys to the buildings. There was no way to tell exactly which keys were in the drawer that was burgled, so we re-keyed everything. Tons of people had to get new keys and turned in their old ones. Here’s a cup of 86 worthless keys (and not everyone’s are in there):


My friend Jane suggested we should make art out of the useless keys and that I deserved several of them for myself for having had to deal with the mess after the break in. I turned 25 of them into tree jewelry. I spray painted them with glow-in-the-dark paint (sadly, here it never gets dark enough at night to see them glow) and strung them with more of the glitzy beads. Included in the 25 I brought home was a special key: the only one that was recovered from the thief. We found it on the sidewalk after the break in.

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I also made some Wind Sticks for my garden. It all started with some cleaning indoors (something I need to do more of instead of working in my garden!). There was some old wooden trim left from a previous owner’s project. Five years seemed long enough to decide we weren’t going to use them, but on my way to the trash it somehow occurred to me to stick them in the ground. They went in nicely and bobbed gently in the breeze. I liked it. I bought some paint, some glitter, and more trim and now I have some extra movement in the garden. They also match my sunflowers and blackberry trellis, but they are difficult to photograph well.

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And where does my garden art inspiration come from? Recently John and I were on vacation visiting his family near Baltimore, MD. If you’re ever in Baltimore, I highly recommend visiting the American Visionary Art Museum. It’s full of very fun and interesting art made by visionary artists. What is that? The Museum says:

“Visionary art as defined for the purposes of the American Visionary Art Museum refers to art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself.”

It’s art often made from found objects with encrusted surfaces. For me, it’s an inspiring place. You can’t take photographs inside the museum, but the outside is a piece of art as well:


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There’s also an amazing mirror tree out in front of the museum. It glitters and tinkles in the wind. All I need are a million mirrors:

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And there is a nice garden area. Some day I can imagine making a cool face fountain like theirs:



5 thoughts on “Garden Art and Art Gardens

  1. What a verbal and visual treat! The writing and the photos are truly Amyesque. (I needed to make up a word to fit what you do; I hope that the spelling works.) I have already thought that there should be a word to describe the food you make, especially the baked desserts containing fruit; now I think there should be a word for your art. Amyesque art and Amyesque food; I celebrate all of it!

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