Monday, May 08, 2006

The Wild Garden: Invasion of the Garden Gnomes

There is a wild area along the fence that separates our yard from the neighbours behind us. There is a Maple tree that is quite old and very large, a small Horse Chestnut tree, and several small Birch and Basswood trees. Amongst the trees, the ground is covered with ferns that grow quite thick and tall as Spring advances to Summer. When we purchased this home we decided we would keep the area a bit wild to give habitat to the various birds and furry creature that we wanted to attract.

Over time, my ideas for this wild area have taken many forms. At one time I thought to build a rock walkway through the ferns with small private areas set aside for sitting and meditating. Hordes of hungry mosquitoes quickly abused me of that notion. I did decide to create a planned wild space by creating a short irregular rock wall around the area that not only defined the space but also kept the wild in check. At some point the idea of creating a mystical forest was discussed but never very seriously, until now.

Saturday PeterC and I went to the Walmart in the next town over, ostensibly to buy food for the various pets we have. As I always do in spring, we made the tour of the garden centre after we had picked up our purchases. And, as I almost always do, I stumbled upon an idea for defining our wild space. It also just happened to lend itself to the Mystical Woods idea. The idea revolved around Solar Lanterns and Garden Gnomes.

Solar lanterns are not only the current fad but also, in my mind, a good source of cheap lighting for outdoor spaces. The bright white LED solar lanterns can also double as reasonable indoor emergency lighting during power failures. Let them charge outside during the day and bring them inside after dark. The newest technologies allow for a bright white LED to be used for six to ten hours on a single charge, and those LEDs put off quite a bit of light. Solar Lanterns are also the perfect symbol for the Sun and Fire.

Garden Gnomes have enjoyed numerous, though brief, periods as the latest greatest fad. They have ranged from the classic Mythological European style Gnomes to the more cutesy, artsy, crafty style Gnome. They could be found in all shapes, sizes, and demeanors; some small and wizened, others large and hideously ugly, bright and cheerful, or dark and brooding. In mythology and folk tales, Gnomes are the Earth's spiritual children; born of dirt and stone. Garden Gnomes make good representatives of Earth in any elemental garden. Our Gnomes are small, wizened, and cheerful. Just what we need to lift our spirits on dreary days.

So now the idea for what to do with our wild space has taken full form and the work has begun. Stones of mixed sizes will be placed along the outer edges of the fern growth, touching and overlapping to creating a rough wall between the lawn and the ferns. The solar lanterns will be spaced amongst the stones to provide a soft, subtle, Faerie lighting while delineating the wild area at night. The Garden Gnomes will be placed along the border, some within and some without, near the lanterns so that during the day we see the Gnomes going about their business but at night they disappear as the Fae come out to play.

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