February 22, 2010

Garden Inspiration: Whimsical in Wilmington

Go beyond bottle trees in your garden! If you are fascinated by glass bottles of every color and shape — be amazed by the Bottle Chapel at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina. The Bottle Chapel was created by area artists as a tribute to Minnie Evans, a visionary artist who was the gatekeeper at Airlie from 1949 until 1974.

Bottle Chapel, photo taken February 2009
Of course, bottle sculpture of that magnitude is typically reserved for larger places than home gardens. The chapel is a great example of bottles as mosaic materials to create images of trees, faces and butterflies. The ideas can be transferred to smaller scale objects such as garden walls.

There are other fanciful and fun ideas to inspire gardeners that won't require so much work, artistry and imagination.

Spouting fountains are usually reserved for water gardens and formal pools. Why not use a pair of heron sculptures to create the motion of water in a dry stream — until the rains come along? This idea requires a catch basin and pump (hidden under the stones) to recirculate the water.

If you have no place for hanging baskets, you can "column-ize" your containers! Take a concrete column, add a concrete planter and your garden will reach new heights. The vertical accent draws attention to the colorful winter-time flowers set against a backdrop of evergreen trees. A perfect way to foil deer and rabbits, too!

Salvage a rusty garden gate or iron headboard to use as a back to a bench. The ironwork does double-duty as a trellis for climbing vines. A concrete bench can be left to weather naturally, or stained by diluting a bit of paint with a lot of water. Inexpensive concrete "yard art" can be found at many roadside stands. A little powder, a little paint — make it look like what it ain't.

Whether you follow straight paths in formal gardens or winding paths in the many casual gardens, there are wondrous and whimsical ideas throughout Airlie.

More information on visiting the gardens and Wilmington area can be found in the itinerary that I wrote for visitnc.com. Cool Coastal Gardens is a free download. Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks/copyrights/patents owned by those respective companies or persons.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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