Thursday, June 07, 2007


I have this terra cotta tile on my hearth and my kitchen counter. It is warm, serviceable, and attractive. When I first moved into this apartment, there were nine tiles in the hearth that were either broken or missing. What I wanted to do was to remove the broken tiles and then replace the missing ones with something like the tile on the right. It is a related palate, and the chambered nautilus motif would go well with other natural items that I've used to decorate my apartment, including a chambered nautilus shell that lives on a bookcase upstairs. The contrast between the basic plainness of the terra cotta and the more sophisticated design of the other tile pleased me. The contrast between the desert feel of one and the ocean feel of the other also charmed me. The fact that tiles were missing in a haphazard pattern seemed to me to be a lovely design element -- a contrasting tile placed at random, very organic. Very yang.

It also occurred to me to look for nine different tiles of similar color and theme, or even nine tiles in a variety of colors and patterns. But, forgetting that it is easier to get forgiveness than permission, I mentioned it to my landlord. Three days later I came home from work to find the missing tiles had been replaced by plain terra cotta, and two extra tiles had been left in case I needed them. Pity.

I really like the contrast between nature and art, between wild and designed, between pure and adorned. I like effects that are unexpected and unique.

I thought about all of this because I was looking through a catalog of yard ornaments and saw an item that I would love to have, and that would not ordinarily be thought to fit into my yard at all. This is my front yard. Totally wild. Not a single thing that has been planted or grown on purpose. There are wild flowers blooming most of the spring and summer, starting with dandelions and going on to sweet rocket and Queen Anne's lace. At the moment it's dandelions, buttercups, and the beginnings of sweet rocket.

And this is what I would love to find a place for. What do you suppose I would have to do to make this look like it belonged here? Perhaps if I could make the place look like a ruin that the woods were retaking. Take a chip or two out of the lawn ornament, hide part of it behind a large fern. Somehow get the water to flow in a randomized pattern? Whatever, I think it would be great fun. And, isn't it OK for fun and beauty to go together?

Click on pictures to enlarge.


Anonymous said...

"And, isn't it OK for fun and beauty to go together?"

You betcha. Why not?

Deja Pseu said...

That's a gorgeous fountain. I think you could make it work in that yard.

I also love the juxstaposition of unexpected or even seemingly opposite design elements. We went to a backyard chili cookoff at the home of an acquaintance of Doug's, and their yard looked like a delightful Engligh children's garden. Fruit trees, pretty flowers everwhere... and little gargoyle statues interspersed throughout. It was wonderful.

Kay Dennison said...


dahlia and balu said...

I also like the contrast between art and nature placed in proximity. When my children and I go camping at the beach, we like to make weavings on a driftwood loom studded with small nails, using such things as garden twine, seaweeds, and feathers.

I suggest placing your fountain not too far from the staircase, so that it doesn't look lonely and marooned in a bunch of weeds, but rather emphasizes and focuses the two designed elements--the staircase and the fountain---in relation to each other and in contrast to the natural setting, enhancing both the wildness already there and the staircase. Maybe make it easy to see, but not just plain "out there."

I am sure that you will find the right place for it, and it will be lovely.

J at said...

I think with the wilds that surround you, it would fit in and be 'ruins-ish' soon enough all on its own. ;)

Ginnie said...

I love the tile and what a shame that you couldn't put it on the wall. Why are landlords so dull when it comes to decorating?
The fountain is lovely and I think it would fit in fine in your "natural" garden.

AuthorMomWithDogs said...

I think the nautilus tile would have been a nice touch.

And love the fountain.

gawilli said...

I love your front yard the most and I love it that things come up and bloom in cycles - natures timing is wonderful.

Joy Des Jardins said...

What a beautiful fountain J. There's got to be a place for it...I know you'll find just the right spot. There's always a place for fun and beauty together. I just love that fountain.

Maya's Granny said...

Yes, I also love that fountain. However, I won't be putting it in this year, as I just learned that my program's grant is not being offered for the next fiscal year, so I am going to be husbanding my funds carefully while I look for another job.

joared said...

I think your tile idea was excellent. Also like the wild natural look and have just been thinking about that versus the carefully designed look. The fountain will certainly work as some have suggested here, once you're ready to acquire it.

Sorry to read funding for your program is not coming through. I hope you're able to come up with another job with minimal effort. You certainly have a lot of valuable skills to offer.