The day began with the promise of an early morning storm; no rain, but a cool breeze and an overcast sky made it so wonderful to be outside this July morning. There were clouds in the sky, heavy clumps of gray at varying levels and in shades from light to dark. We have only a few days of cloudy skies in Arizona, so when they occur, we talk about it, noticing, watching, and photographing them. The forecast promised rain, but it missed us. We stay dry. Here the water supply worries are real.
When the temperature hits 110 for many days in a row in the bright Arizona sun, it seems the garden loses all its color. Even the greens seem to fade to shades of gray. But on an overcast morning, the color comes through. This time of year. I have only a few blooming flowers, some white Pentas, Arabian Jasmine, Dynamite Yucca, and Sunflowers in various shades. The hot sun pushes many plants into survival mode. I am here in my garden, gratefully surrounded by plants.
Last summer we had our house painted, and it looked so clean and fresh when finished. But we had to paint over two existing murals we had enjoyed for years. So, over the past few months we’ve created new bits of color with the help of muralist Joan Bourque and her sister, Diane.
Rich met Joanne years ago when he participated in an arts grant project at the high school where he taught honors geometry classes. She was an artist in residence teaching students how to apply the geometric concepts of perspective and forms to murals they painted on the school hallways. The project sparked the students’ interest in math and art, but it also sparked Rich’s creativity to work in steel and wood. As we traveled to gardens around the world, he saw sculptures everywhere. He brought those ideas home.
As the summer heat washes away the green, Rich comes to the rescue, ensuring we have colors all year long. Over the years, he has envisioned and created bits of colorful fun for our garden. Here are a few of his creations.
This sculpture is titled Geometry, which adds a line from one to 8, beginning with a single line then a triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, septagon, and octagon. Powder coated in shiny red, it is one of my favorite pieces.
He also created a graduated set of three octahedrons. They look like this and are defined like this, “A three-dimensional shape having eight plane faces,(sides) each made from an equilateral triangle. Aren’t they great?
The whimsical creature here he named “Pad-E-O” with the duck webbed feet, wings, and shiny eyes. He is ready for a walk across the lawn. Creating the proper bend for the legs was challenging. Rich studied a bird book for ideas. Several years ago, he made a horse seat for the patio, using a discarded pine tree log and adding steel legs.
He built an abstracted variation of an ocotillo from scraps of steel, “growing” from a pine wood base. He hand-colored each of the blooms. This one blooms all year round.
We have some “spirit sticks.” He designed these using steel from his scrap pile and some colored glass provided by a friend, plus a little additional steel that he purchased. Placed along our east wall they capture the late afternoon sun and shine brightly.
He built the arbors now covered with vines.
While on a Southwest airline flight, he picked up three slanted heart coffee stir sticks, put them together, and he liked the shape. From that, he created his “Hearts & Flowers” sculpture where all the elements, blooms and leaves, are heart shapes.
It is hard to count or even find all the things Rich has created over the years. This is only a sample of things he made for the garden. There are just as many he made for inside the house. His joy is figuring out how to do it; the more complex, the better. He says he “just likes making things.” The garden is all the better for it, all year round.
It is now too hot to be in the workshop, but these pieces will be a pleasure to enjoy for the days of summer still ahead.