Unusual Garden Art

DSCN6570Temporary art in a bowl of water at Chanticleer

In June, Michael and I went on the annual Scott Arboretum Associates’ Garden Day.  This tour is one of the many wonderful events planned by the arboretum free of charge for its members.   The tour was followed by a reception at world famous Chanticleer featuring delicious food and drink and providing an opportunity to stroll around the lovely gardens after hours.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.


DSCN6561Unfortunately, I didn’t record the name of this arresting sculpture.

One of the homes on the tour featured a collection of very unusual sculptures or installations.  I didn’t count them, but it seemed like there could have been at least 100 and maybe more.  Most of them were not what for want of a better term I will call “pretty art”; in fact, some of them were quite disturbing.   Would you want the boxer above greeting you every time you entered your driveway?  It really got me thinking about the age old question of what is art?


DSCN6551There were many of these installations, if that is the right term, in the woodlands surrounding the house.


DSCN6559untitled, Will Dexter, cast glass and steel


DSCN6557untitled, Bob Harrington, mahogany




DSCN6555“Sleeping Beauty”, Debra Rosenblum


DSCN6549“Arboreal Timbre”, Greg Leavitt, copper and steel.  This life size metal tree was right outside the front door.



DSCN6556“Throne”, Peter Diepenbrock, metal washers


DSCN6554“Emergence”, Debra Rosenblum, bronze and slate


This is not the accumulation of an eccentric included on the tour for some obscure reason, but the well-respected collection of an art connoisseur frequently visited by groups from prominent area art institutions.  I am definitely of the opinion that beauty (or if not beauty, then interest) is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone is entitled to design their garden in the way most pleasing to them.  I found the garden thought provoking, and maybe that’s part of the owner’s intention.   It is still hard for me to think of some of this as art.  What do you think?


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22 Responses to “Unusual Garden Art”

  1. Very interesting, Carolyn. I don’t have any trouble seeing all of the pieces you’ve shown as art. Whether it is art I would want to live with is another matter — although i think I would really enjoy “Arboreal Timbre.”

    • Jean, I would rather have a real tree like a sculptural Japanese maple or native dogwood outside my door than a sculpture of a tree no matter how special. However, I am a firm believer that gardeners should design their gardens for themselves and not an audience. [Although, if you follow certain rules of design, the result may be more satisfying for everyone.] I admire this gardener/art collector for following her passion fully without restraint. Not many people are brave enough to do that. Carolyn

  2. jechoisir Says:

    Sometimes a rose is best left alone.

    • I won’t presume to understand your comment completely, but plants were not the focus of this garden and were just the background for the art. In my garden, the hardscape, art, and seating are quiet compliments to the plants on center stage. Carolyn

      • jechoisir Says:

        Carolyn, I don’t recall the context, but I’m sure it was meant in positive or perhaps humorous way. Just discovered this. I just admired your winter garden post and especially the white tea camellia. I live in Louisiana and so grow camellias with ease, but I can appreciate losing one to weather.

      • Camellias don’t grow easily here so its nice to have a good camellia season.

  3. Clara Berger Says:

    I’m really sorry to say this but I think the Emperor has no clothes.

  4. How interesting! I liked some better than others–particularly “Emergence” and “Sleeping Beauty.” And that first bowl filled with petals and stems is incredibly beautiful. Sounds like your tour was a feast for all the senses!

  5. Interesting! I don’t think I would want to live with any of them but can admire the gardener for having them in her garden. I have a few of my carvings in the garden here, but the plants always come first.

  6. janine avis Says:

    Hi Carolyn, I am sure you have been to the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ. A Must! Anytime of year.

  7. Carolyn, I so appreciate your site and I love your openness with the various types of works and landscaping out there. Thank you for always showing us things that gives everyone something to enjoy. That is the beauty of gardening, there is something for everyone! 🙂 Keep up the great work Carolyn… love it!

  8. Most is not my idea of art that I would like….maybe the metal tree, but really I like wood trees…yes art is in the eye of the beholder I would say.

  9. The art and displays are really interesting. Very unusual for sure.

  10. Well, I guess art comes in many forms and I do like some of them. As you didn’t record the name of this arresting sculpture, I will not make a claim for misuse to the likeness of myself.

  11. An interesting garden, but not my taste. I would have enjoyed the tour just for the opportunity to attend a reception at Chanticleer. Good to hear from you Carolyn. I hope the renovations are going well. Happy Thanksgiving! P. x

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