Pieces of flair*

Patriotic pots along the parade routeIf you ever get to visit Bristol during the pre-Independence Day season you’ll notice that Bristolians take this holiday very seriously. On my walks around town lately I’ve been absolutely amazed all over again at how many houses and gardens are dressed in flags and stars and lights and red, white and blue everything. I can actually count on one hand and some toes the number of houses NOT dressed for the party (mine, alas, is one — we’re considering shopping the bunting blowout sales and draping our house in time for Bastille Day).

The writers over at Gardening Gone Wild host a monthly Garden Design Workshop and this month’s theme, proposed by Nan Ondra, is perfectly timely for us in Bristol – it’s all about garden whimsy. Many of the gardens I walk by in town have regimental impatiens marching among the foundation sentries but some Bristol gardeners are exhibiting their quirky personalities and their senses of humor along with their patriotism – they’re showing all kinds of “flair”.

Subtle patriotic flair on a quirky garden ornament.Plenty of flair - patriotic and otherwise.  These people clearly don’t take themselves too seriously!a blurry 5am shot of painted alliums! in a side garden off the parade route

The sign that hung on the greenhouse door before it was safe for visitors to visit.Even though I think it’s possible to go overboard in the flair and whimsy department (a little goes a long way) I really enjoy seeing something unexpected and even giggle inducing in the garden. I know a gardener who has a demonic looking blue plastic bear/dog poking out of his delphinium and another with a bronze cast of her own hand emerging from a pond – sometimes the hand grasps a bottle of beer; other times a trowel. And I like to think that the mail carrier gets a kick out of Floyd, the plastic flamingo who guards our mail box. Here at Blithewold we keep the whimsy understated and even our Independence Day rah!-rah! is on the quiet side (Thanks to Sue McC. there is always a flag flying over the front door).

Red (Cotinus coggygria - purple smoke bush) White (Dipsacus fullonum - Teasel)and Blue!  (purple cabbage)


Do you enjoy glimpses of personality and humor in other people’s gardens? At Gardening Gone Wild they’ve asked: Do you have anything whimsical or personal in yours? A pair of wooden geese, perhaps? A train set? A statue of St. Francis? And I also wonder, do you decorate for the holidays?

*title phrase borrowed from the cult classic film Office Space by Mike Judge.

5 thoughts on “Pieces of flair*

  1. Hi, Kris! Thanks for sharing some of your local color (so to speak). Those alliums are simply brilliant! I like your more suble red, white, and blue offering as well.

    Thank you, Nan for giving me a platform to jump off of! Can’t wait to read others’ posts on their garden whimsy (where does the day go?) -kris

  2. Kris: Love your tribute to the red, white and blue!

    Thanks, Layanee! Funny thing was I didn’t go out that morning looking for those colors – but that’s what I shot! -kris

  3. Kris,
    I am late in sending a reply, but wanted to add my vote for garden whimsy. Mine is a bit lack-luster these days, but I love the idea of a pair of wooden geese… Any hints about where to find them? Meanwhile, I always love the blog!

    Patricia, I’m glad you love the blog – I suppose you might be a little biased though? I’ve already tallied your vote for whimsy – I learned whimsy (or at least an appreciation for it) at the feet of a master… I wonder where the geese are – you don’t have them? Are you sure?? -your darling daughter

  4. Came over from Nan’s Design Workshop and when I saw the word “Flair” knew I’d enjoy your post, Kris – how could I resist a phrase from a movie that was not only a classic, but was filmed in Austin!
    The blue hydrangeas just kill me – they don’t grow in either my old state of Illinois or here in Texas and don’t seem real to me.

    I love to _visit_ flair and whimsy and enjoy people who can do it well, but _living_ with it is harder. And I DO have a St Francis statue.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Annie, I’m so glad you stopped by! Sometimes the blue hydrangeas don’t seem real to me either and we’re pretty well surrounded by them in RI. I’m more partial to the ones like ‘Limelight’, myself. And three cheers for St. Francis – I grew up with him hanging out by my great grandfather’s flower beds! -kris

  5. these are all pretty tame whimsy. Maybe you could call it tasteful.

    Lisa, You’re right – I didn’t show any pictures from my garden….. ! -kris

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