April Whimsy

Plant Whimsy

The sweetness of April arrives bringing spring’s green leaves, sprouts, blooms, and wildlife babies. The potential for delight could hardly be greater in any other month of the year.  Garden visitors wander in with their expectations high.  New gardeners, flush with knowledge, walk wide-eyed now identifying annuals, edibles and perennials. The serious horticulturalist seeks out specimens and hybrids, checking to see how last year’s new varieties survived the winter.  Landscape designers explore the style and flow of the garden.  Plant fans hurry in to see the collection of their favorites, be they bamboos, orchids, agaves or roses.  There are so many opportunities to enjoy and explore a garden.  Yet whatever category you find yourself, if you are visiting a garden in April, you want to be open to whimsy.

Gardeners create gardens, trying to impose order on nature.  We move and improve the soil, arrange plants and borders just so; seeds are sown and told to grow.  In the interim, one must wait for the creation to develop. Our patience is tested.  We want the results now! Annual bedding plants and transplanted shrubs give the illusion of the garden we hope to have. While time is required and optimism is essential,we can immediately enjoy the unexpected delight of planting a bit of whimsy.

In Cultivating Delight, Diane Ackerman begins, “I plan my garden as I wish I could plan my life, with islands of surprise, color, and scent.”  Islands of surprise may be natures’ creation or creations of a spirited soul adding a whimsical element to a garden.

Whimsy sneaks into even the most formal and well-funded gardens.  In just the right spot a bit of fun and delight complements the landscape.  What other purpose could there be for this bronze beauty by Columbian Artist Fernando Botero, in the gardens of Monaco, than a laugh and a smile?

Famous gardens known for great advances in horticulture and design, such as the Montreal Botanic Garden, situate bits of whimsy to charm all who wander by.   Like an April Fool prank, visitors do a double take as they come upon this big bird. (above) In any language, this blackbird adorned with a circle of flowers beak and behind provides a spark of amusement.

One feels truly fooled at a garden hose patterned as snakeskin.  I’m not sure this bit of whimsy would ever lose its shock value!

These fanciful garden surprises provide an element of whimsy that can be overlooked by visitors hurrying along hoping to “get through” the garden and onto the next thing.  While human creations add to nature’s beauty, nature may be playful as well. If we look closely, we may see the momentary art of nature’s whimsy in a fading poppy bloom transformed into a dancer with a beautiful gown.

A spotted frog amidst the moss creates a sense of wonder as to how two things could so magically echo each other in color and shape.

“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.”  (Ruth Stout)  April is an exceptional month to visit a garden.  New signs of life cheer the soul.  Whatever our dreams, whatever our troubles, when we find whimsy in a garden we laugh, smile, and carry that lightness of heart out into the world.

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