Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stick It to...the Gardener?

(Do you see that "attractive" green watering stand hiding behind the green PVC stick thingee? Clever!!)
Crap! I hate it when this happens. You deal with the weeds only to have these PVC thingees pop up everywhere in beautifully planted bedding annuals. I like a shot of color, a painted chair, a vibrant pot, but these stick thingees?

Recycle 'em!

Allen Centennial Gardens is usually my favorite garden visit of the year. I seldom make the trip to the UW-Madison campus to take in the Allen in spring. Once I went in winter; they have a remarkably diverse pinetum for a garden that covers less than two acres. I typically get there late summer or fall.

This year though, I could have skipped my visit.

Okay, we've been in a severe drought. We need to water. It can be inconvenient to lug tripod and hose around. I understand. But it was 4:30 PM, and not a gardener in sight. But there were plenty of these, just standing around.

It was hard to frame a shot without all the other non-garden items. It was downright distracting.

Not only did the watering regimen and the sticks stick it to me, but there were major areas of bare ground (in August?) with this sign:

And then, because of the drought, irregardless of the watering schedule, there were dead, dying, or missing plants.

And then, of course, they are sandblasting or tuck-pointing or doing some sort of restoration on the building, so there is scaffolding, but also we have a couple borrowed views like this.

Isn't this clever how the irrigation head on a pipe mimics the carillon bell tower in the distance? How nice to repeat and mimic shapes throughout the garden.

And this mortuary/funeral urn cemetery-looking display. "What'll ya' have on your tombstone!"

They were concerned about gardening in small spaces. But with this jumble and lackadaisical watering schedule, I'm not sure the yield that could be obtained from this.

And just to give you one more look at all those sticks:

I'm just not that into those sticks, Allen Centennial Garden folks!


  1. Those sticks are just strange...what are they there for, decoration? very odd?

  2. I think they are supposed to be some sort of artistic statement...decorative.


  3. I kind of like the sticks, perhaps not as a permanent installation but as a wimsical touch for a while. Perhaps they're student work. When Dale Chihuly does the same thing with glass, people think it's the best thing since sliced bread.

  4. OMG, I just saw this post and am sorry that you so despised the gardens. First, 4:30 pm on August 14th and not a gardener in sight? We were in excess of 90 and 100 degrees most of those days and we came in early and did the watering and I sent volunteers and students home before they got cooked in that heat. Yes, there were watering units around the Gardens, it was a horrific year with the worst drought in history. We have extremely limited labor - the Gardens are 100% self-funded, including my salary and benefits - not a dime of state or UW money goes into operations. I discovered quickly that we couldn't miss even a day of watering so hauling all of those portable units out every single day consumed huge amounts of labor and time we didn't have. 2.5 acres took the entire work day to water, I extimated there were times we spent 80% of our time during the week watering. GARDENERRS who visited us understood that fully and that keeping plants alive and looking good was more important than the visuals of watering units - at least we looked like a real operating garden! The dead larch branch was due to the fact that it was a historic tree and we has someone who was going to use the wood for donor gifts and it was better to leave the branch attached until he could cut and do the sculpting. And you found one dahlia that didn't come up when the rest of the gardens looked outstanding in a year when home gardens were shriveled up with heat and drought. The colored poles - not sticks - went over extremely well with gardeners that appreciate us trying to do something different every year - had you looked close enough, you would have seen that they reflected the colors of each bed. They still stand and everyone remarks how they add wonderful color coming up through the snow. Sorry you missed the point and effect. Next year they will become paint brushes as part of our Paint Your Garden Romantic theme - I'll advise you right now to save yourself the trip, hate to disappoint you and doubt you will "get it". Thankfully most of our visitors appreciated the enormous amount of work it took from dedicated volunteers to keep things going in horrific heat and drought - all free of charge to a mostly appreciative public - and said we looked gorgeous. Of course they weren't going around trying to find and photograph the flaws. Glad to hear your own garden was fabulous last year and had no such flaws. For any of you who want to see what we REALLY looked like without selecting out the flaws, please visit allencentennialgardens.org and view the images on our 2012 slide show. I'll bet you even like the "sticks"!

    1. To clarify for anyone who may have missed it, the preceding post is from Ed Lyon. Mr. Lyon is the Director of the Allen Centennial Gardens. I enjoy allowing him space for rebuttal of his artistic endeavors at the Allen. Those of you who follow this blog in any small way understand my love of the plants versus the "jewelry" of ornamentation we stick in our yards. I am totally about the plants.

      I also totally understand his defense of his watering methods. Any homeowner who did not water last summer and thinks all of his or her landscape plants will come through this winter just fine is probably open for some rude shocks. As my saying goes, "It's not death until it's warm and dead."

      I'll probably not take Ed's advice and take in the "Paint the Garden Romantic" exhibit. As I mentioned the Allen is one of my favorite gardens, so many plant species in such a small space.

  5. Oops, I was thinking about plant death! The saying is "It's not dead until it's warm and dead."