Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Garden China--Feast for the Eyes

Many years ago, while I was visiting my Master Gardener friend, Clarrissa, and walking through her garden, I noticed, beautiful pieces and shards of old broken china scatterred throughout the planting beds. There were big pieces of broken plates along with splinters and shards of china and I was truely enchanted with how these pieces, placed thoughtfully among the flowers and plants, added to the whimsy and personality of the annuals, perrenials and shrubs.

Clarissa explained to me that these were the bits and pieces left from her mother's good china which Clarrissa had inherited after her mother had passed away but the china, enroute to her from far away, had been damaged in transport by the shipping company and was way beyond repair. She couldn't bring herself to part with these beloved pieces so she thought to scatter them throughout her garden in memory of her mother. To me, it was simply a charming and clever way to preserve some wonderful memories.

Having loved her idea, I went home and immediately started to gather as many old cracked and damaged china pieces of my own and began plotting out how I would break them up even further to get the same effect in my garden beds. As I stood looking at some really pretty plates, I couldn't bring myself to intentionally damage them further, so I decided to just use them as they were and stick them into the beds among my own plants and flowers. As I dug through my own collection of plates, I was astonished at just how many I had and within a couple of days, I was using my old collectibles as an ecclectic and unique edging for the garden beds. To this day, I've never seen prettier edging for any garden, mine or others, that compares to these blue and white plates that play off of each other as well as the plants they help to define and contain.

So, for 12 years now, out come the plates into the garden at the beginning of April to line my kitchen/vegetable garden--now being turned into an english knot garden--and, in they come at the end of October to be washed and then stored away in the attic during the winter months. These plates are an accumulation of pieces and memories from my mother, aunts, cousins and sister as well as freinds who have come and seen my gardens and then thought of me when they happen upon an old china relic from their own cabinets or antique store visits.

I consider it the ultimate compliment when someone gives me a plate from their own collection because they thought of me to help preserve their memories in my own unique way. My plate collection has grown quite a bit over the years and has even seen the addition of blue and white porcelain chickens pecking through the beds and old china shoe vases that poke out from under plants and flowers as well. I love every piece and I believe it is truely worth the time and effort to set them out each year in the garden where their charm and personality come to life in a whole different way.

Above, are a few pictures of me setting the plates out this year, late in the afternoon this past Easter Sunday. This coming week begins the process of planting cuttings and setting seeds of lettuce, some veggies, herbs and everlastings and, of course, more lavender and boxwood plants.
By June, this garden will be brimming with color and overflowing with unique personality and historical charm.

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