July 17, 2011

A Whimsical Garden

Not far from my house, a couple of roads to the east, is a magical little garden full of wit and whimsy. It is the creation of my friend, the artist, ceramicist and small business owner Deborah Jurist. The flowers are lovely of course, but it's the architectural elements – the columns and fencing and shed and pools – that make it so personal and so marvelous.

Deborah made the humorously bulbous ceramic finials, which were inspired by fence posts at the University of Pennsylvania library. I love the repetition of all those warm round forms atop the brick columns and amid the profusion of plants. The metal light, its hat askew, or is it tipping toward its friend?, is a fitting companion for the large ball.

The fountain figure, made by Deborah, is Nanki-Poo from the Mikado, a surprising character to live in northern Vermont, but so at home in this garden.

The fence surrounding the small garden plot is made up of branches and tree trunks, all in their natural irregular shapes and textures. The old fashioned hollyhocks look perfect in this setting.

This "door to nowhere" as Deborah calls it, had been a back door of the house. Deborah wrote about it: "I never expected the delightful feeling of arriving in a different place just by opening and closing a door."

There are many charming details, such as the rock-hatted birdhouse and the old metal letterbox.

Alongside the enclosed garden, to its north, is a rock-surrounded pool with a small flowery island at its center, punctuated by a putto birdbath. And you can see in the distance an allée beginning behind the enclosed garden and made up of Lombardy poplars; it is an element that is generally so formal, but in this garden simply emphasizes its wondrous nature.

The poplars are just bent and tied together with string...amazing!

Across the road, nestled between the walls of the 18th century house is a tiny garden behind another type of homemade fence, centered by a birdbath and with a profusion of foliage and bloom. I've named this the "hidden garden" since it seems a little shy. There is always more to discover here, and always more to delight.


  1. I love this time of year when people are out and about in gardens other than their own and they show us what all they see. Such beautiful spots of inspiration. Can her pottery be outside during winter? It looks so delicate. Thanks for taking us along.

  2. Lisa, I asked Deborah about the pottery and it all stays put, though Nanki-Poo gets a glass enclosure.
    It is fun to explore other gardens and see how different one can be from the other.

  3. Yes, and gardens seem often to reflect the personalities of their makers... I haven't visited your blog for a while, Altoon, and have been enjoying all the new posts!

  4. The garden is wonderful but Nanki-Poo is a treasure. How nice to be a neighbor!

  5. This post seemed to answer the question of "do we have an innate style". Each person's garden when cared for by themselves rather than a service shows so much personality. This is a delight and I especially enjoyed how the artist combined her work into her setting.