My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ABC Wednesday: An Accidental Garden

admit, I'm appalled that another round of ABC Wednesday has been announced already! I seem to be able to start out pretty ardently (and with the best intentions) at the beginning, hang in there fairly well through the middle, and then my spare time, efforts and creativity appear to fizzle around the letter T. I'm ashamed. Oh well, nothing better to do about it but to just attempt the entire alphabet once more. (Which I'm already doomed to abandon yet again, with another move to make in a month or so! Ack.)

A allows an especially appropriate opportunity to share with you an accidental garden (accidental as in "unexpected;" the garden itself was well planned and 19 years in the making!) that BW and I came upon during a bike ride last Friday.

This sign beside a pretty house's curbside mailbox attracted my attention as I pedaled past, and so we went back to read it...

The homeowners happened to see us from their window and came out to greet us. And so we met Al and Jackie, were allowed past this second, more intimidating sign on the gate to the back yard, and got to spend a lovely hour touring their 1/2 acre of appealing gardens beyond...

Half an acre of gardens is a big area, but luckily we had the accommodating services of an additional tour guide to assist. This is Artemus ("Artie" for short), who Al and Jackie were babysitting for a friend...

One of the first things that caught our eye was this lovely apricot tree. We weren't even aware you could grow apricots in Wyoming!

Here's the very zen-like Asian garden, complete with waterfall...

Jackie told us that a friend made the big wind chime from an oxygen tank!

This is their newest garden, "The Color Garden," created this year. Taking advantage of an abundance of free tires made available to them, they spray painted them various colors, added more colorful goodies, and created an abundance of cheery, whimsical rainbow hues to this area of the property...

Al makes all the wood creations, including this invitingly shady alcove, perfect for enjoying a  book and a refreshing beverage (like, perhaps, an ale!) on a hot afternoon...

The shady alcove is adjacent to Jackie's fairy garden, with its arbor and cavorting fairies (designed by Jackie and made by Al), caught in the act of mischievous fairy antics...

The Fairy Garden is reached via this alluring footbridge...

There are also a Victorian Garden, a Vegetable Garden, a Secret Garden, and many more flowers, shrubs and fruit trees. All those gardens and plantings require abundant agua, for which Al and Jackie drilled a shallow well. In Wyoming, water wells must be registered and named, so they named theirs "Aquarius 66," after the Water Bearer sign that Jackie was born under and the year they were married...

And what respectable garden would be complete without an arch but amiable gargoyle grotesque* to protect it from anyone arrogant and foolhardy enough to not abide by the Area 51 sign that admonished them not to enter?...

Good thing we had an invitation! :-)

Now avail yourself of my advice 
to visit all the other As in this new round at...

*My thanks to Barbara for the information in her comment about the difference between a gargoyle and a grotesque! I didn't know that a water spout (or lack thereof) set them apart. But I'm having a very hard time calling something I think is so cute "grotesque!" :-)


  1. I'm suffering from ABC Fizzle too...must get my butt in gear for this round.
    What an amazing garden, and lucky you for getting the grand tour!
    Jane x

  2. This was an excellent start to our Round 11. With posts like this, I sure hope you don't fizzle out this time. You were very lucky to have been invited in...wish I could see it all too. It's AMAZING!

    abcw team

  3. Fantastic ACCIDENTAL garden. Beautiful decorations, I pinned the garden with the painted tires-great ideas in there. Good luck on the new round.

  4. Wow, did they have any time to actually enjoy it? Glad they invited you in♫♪

  5. I am in awe of this amazing garden. and of your article depicting all its beauties!
    no wonder you fizzle out - I have trouble keeping up with one or two pictures!

  6. Sorry you're frazzled. we want ABC Wednesday to be FUN. Fine post, in any case.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  7. What a gorgeous place - and a fine start to your ABC. (Area 51 - snork!). I would love a garden like that but wouldn't like to mow the lawn... I gather this is where you filched the raspberries from?

    What a clever chap Al must be - that swing seat is beautiful - as is the colourful garden, (and that little dog...).

    Can I just correct you in one thing - a gargoyle is only a gargoyle if he has a water spout, otherwise he's a grotesque. (Got that info from Stephen Fry on QI!). I've never completed the ABC either (one reason I'm trying to keep it simple this time!).

  8. Jane ~ I'm glad to hear I"m not alone! I always seem to be especially busy and distracted when the tough letters (Q, X, Z) roll around, and am hoping that this time, I'll have the time to be creative, think up good ideas, and go find great photo ops for them. This has just been an especially frantic year (selling a house, moving three times in 10 months, and building a house - yikes! And all without the benefit of Prozac!) :-)

    It was a very fun, impromptu tour and most gracious of Al and Jackie to invite us in and take the time to give it!

    Leslie ~ Thank you! I hope I don't either, though I will be forced to skip some rounds here and there. By the way, I just added links to photos of the three other garden areas I'd mentioned they have (don't know why I didn't think of that before!), so while you may not get to see it in person, at least you'll get to see a bit more of it on this post! :-)

    Ann ~ Thanks for letting me know you Pinned it! Jackie is a huge Pinterest fan, so I wonder if she'll see her Color Garden up there? (She asked for my blog URL when I mentioned I'd be posting photos of her garden, but I don't think she's been by it yet. Probably too busy in the garden!) :-)

    We asked her about the paint they used on the tires, and she said they made sure to prime them with a primer that could be submersed in water, but just sprayed them with regular spray paint. This is their first summer, so she said it remains to be seen how well the paint holds up, but they looked really good when we were there. I especially like the yellow one!

    Thanks, and good luck to you in the new round as well!

    Lmkazmierczak ~ Funny you should ask, because I had the same question! Jackie said they did't have time to enjoy it the first few years when it was just an empty lot (they build their house 19 years ago), but in more recent years it's been far less labor-intensive than people assume it is, and they have lots more time to spend enjoying it. They're still adding things to it (they were planting a hydrangea that afternoon), but it's clearly more enjoyment than work now.

    We were glad too! (And I just happened to have my camera on the back of my bike! I try to take it with me wherever I go, for reasons just like this ~ you never know!) :-)

  9. VioletSky ~ I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! I know, I rarely have the self-discipline to choose just one or two photos to share. That might well be part of my fizzle problem - I should learn to pace myself! :-)

    Roger ~ Oh no, you misread me ~ I said I fizzle out, not that I'm frazzled! (Well, I am, but it has to do with building a house, not with doing my blog! My blog is my therapy!) :-) Glad you liked my pre-fizzle, unfrazzled post. LOL

    Barbara ~ Al has a riding lawn mower. Do they even have those in England? (Well, on the big estates I'll bet they do) It's the weeding that would intimidate me, I think. And yes indeedy, this was the scene of my raspberry-theft crime. Right here. :-)

    Al's a man of many talents. He was in the Navy, a cop in LA, and worked for the City of Los Angeles in their landscape maintenance dept. I've forgotten some of the details (and most of them were shared while I was wandering around taking photos), but clearly he's picked up several skills along the way!

    Artie was REALLY cute! She loved following me around and then sneaking up on me. I'd lost track of her at one point, called to her and called to her but she'd vanished in that big yard. A few minutes later I was crossing the footbridge and heard a tap-tap-tapping behind me like a Billy Goat Gruff, and there she was, thinking she was so clever and being quite pleased with herself.

    Thanks for educating me about gargoyles and grotesques! How interesting - I had no idea and am glad to know it! I made a correction to my post.

    Good luck with the entire alphabet this time! I think I'm just hopeless. :-)

  10. What a treat to take that tour with you. What a great start for Round 11...

  11. Just re-read my comment and must apologise for how pompous it sounded in respect to gargoyles and grotesques (non-intentional, honest!!! I didn't know the difference until I saw that programme - now it's one of those things I think of every times I see one on a church :O))

  12. Wanda ~ I appreciate your stopping by and am happy to hear that you enjoyed your tour! :-) Have fun with the new round!

    Barbara ~ You can't be serious. Your comment does not sound the least bit pompous and I really meant what I said, I'm happy to have learned that about gargoyles! I'm sure the difference between them and grotesques is a little-known fact, and that I'm one of many who's been calling them by the wrong name all these years. And you certainly don't want to offend a gargoyle - or a grotesque! :-) Anyway, your comment wasn't pompous, I was glad to make the correction, and I'm grateful to you for teaching me something new, useful and interesting!

    But taunting me with the emailed photo of your ginger cake, now THAT we're going to have to discuss! ;-)

  13. Oh you don't have a scratch and sniff MAC? :op

  14. What a cool place! How lucky you got invited in; they sound like very friendly people. Are people pretty friendly in Wyoming? They're not around here.

    Anyway, I love all the gardens, but I think my favorites are the ones you linked too...especially the Victorian garden and the veggie garden!

    So, sounds like you're moving in about a month...yeah!!

  15. Laloo! First may I say that Artie is adorable!! I want to email you but don't have your current addy....mail me please!

  16. So much color in the garden. Wow! It's very whimsical. Thanks for visiting my A.

  17. Barbara ~ No, dammit, and I've been wanting one for years! (I also want the model where you can reach through the screen and snag foodstuffs and beverages from yummy vegan food blogs. Surely this technology exists! Especially from a company called Apple!) ;-)

    Rose ~ We were very pleasantly surprised that they came out and invited us in ~ that was really fun! And yes, they were very friendly people! I guess Wyoming is like most places - some people are friendly, some aren't. Sheridan has long had a reputation for being unfriendly (especially compared to other towns in this part of the state), and we've found that reputation to be pretty well deserved. Jackie and Al moved here from Los Angeles, maybe that has something to do with their friendliness. :-) I'm surprised to hear you say Seattle isn't friendly, I pictured it being the opposite, at least for a big city.

    I failed to link to those gardens until after most of my visitors had stopped by ~ don't know why I didn't think of it sooner! The Victorian Garden was our favorite too, and the Secret Garden was tied with the Fairy Garden as my second favorite. But it was one of those bright but thinly overcast days that makes it really glare-y, and it was the middle of the day, so the lighting was a real challenge, and those three photos were overexposed so didn't make the blog cut. I was really disappointed that my Victorian Garden photos didn't do it justice, because it was really neat in person. (Their entire yard is almost completely organic, too).

    I hope we're moving in a month or so, but dang - it feels like we'll NEVER get there sometimes!

    Izzy ~ It's great to "see" you! Thanks for stopping by! Artie's indeed adorable, and I just sent you an email. :-)

    Linnea ~ I loved the whimsy too, and there was a lot more of it than I could capture in photos. Lots of little treasures hidden among the plants, many of them vintage and really charming.

    Thanks for reciprocating the "A" visit! :-)

  18. Good Morning!!!
    How does a person get in touch with you these days?

  19. Kelly ~ Good afternoon!
    A person can get in touch with me in all the ways that you did. :-) I'm just not likely to be able to respond right away (obviously, lol)! Great to hear from you, though, and I'll be in touch soon!

  20. They're so creative with their gardens! Very cool stuff, but I can't imagine the time it takes to maintain them. I'm impressed! I especially love that area 51 sign and what an adorable guide you had along the way. He looks so scruffy. <3

  21. Well I dropped by for a visit and what did I find but a lovely
    story about our garden. Thank
    you for doing such a nice job telling our garden story.
    We enjoy gardening (we better
    with a yard this big)we get enjoyment from the work itself
    but also sitting back and
    admiring our handywork. But
    it also gives us great pleasure
    to be able to share. We
    enjoyed meeting you & BW and
    being able to share our garden.
    I like your blog and will
    be stoping by again.I find we
    have a few things in common besides gardening. Reading,
    photography, travel, animals,and
    several other things,and
    although not vegan, I have
    been a vegetarian for over
    25 years.
    Thank you again & everyone
    else for all the kind words,
    a pat on the back is always
    a nice thing.

  22. Molly ~ Yes, they are (very creative) and I am too (impressed!) We thought that Area 51 sign was a hoot, and Artie did make for an adorable and entertaining guide indeed. She's at Al and Jackie's so often, she thinks the place is hers. They also have a very sweet old poodle mix who is mostly blind and deaf (and whose name I've drawn one of those annoying "it's on the tip of my tongue" blanks on right now!), but who gamely followed us around on our tour too. But Artie's the one who made it onto this ABC Wednesday post because of her name.

    Jackie ~ Yay! I'm so glad you made it by, and that you timed your visit so well! (I was hoping to see you on one of our outings so I could tell you that your garden was getting a lot of favorable attention on my blog!) I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. Your beautiful and creative gardens have been a big hit, and you and Al are totally deserving of all the kudos, so I'm glad you got to read those, too. (And now you'll know to look for your Color Garden on Pinterest!)

    It's obvious that your beautiful property is a true labor of love and that you derive a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment from it, even beyond the obvious pleasure of sitting in your gazebo or on your garden swing and gazing out at what you've created.

    It was really fun to meet you guys, and we thank you again for your generous hospitality. I sensed a kindred spirit in you, so am not surprised (but am delighted) to learn how much we have in common! Especially our veggie-ness, that's always a pleasant surprise to find around here! We can add genealogy and rescuing dogs from animal shelters to that long list as well. :-)

    We saw Al drive by yesterday while we were outside and that made me think of you again, so it's fun that you visited my blog that very evening. I'm glad you plan to return, and hope to get more chances to get together in person. It's too bad we won't be in the same neighborhood much longer, but at least we'll still have that neighborly connection with your son living so close by our new house!

    If you get a chance to read this ~ would you please remind me of your sweet dog's name? It's right there, just out of reach, torturing me... argh, Random Access Memory!! ;-)

  23. P.S. Jackie ~ I thought you might especially enjoy visiting this post, about our visit to Scott and Helen Nearing's Good Life Farm in Maine.

  24. Our dog's name is Dryfus.
    When we adopted him from the shelter at 7 years old he had
    a different name, which we
    didn't like. He evidently
    didn't like it either because
    he responded very quickly to
    his new name.
    I'm familiar with the
    Nearings, lucky you to see
    their place in person. Great
    post, thanks.

  25. Wonderful garden tour. I enjoyed it almost as much as if I'd been there. I can't imagine how much work has gone into that wonderful oasis, but it was well worth the effort. So glad you found it and made some new friends ;-).xoxo

  26. I'm glad you and Barbara have clarified the gargoyle/grotesque thing for me as I had never even heard of a grotesque. That's very interesting but I agree that they are cute and it seems not to be a great choice of names!

    You sure do have a knack for invitations into strangers homes/gardens! Definitely good luck since good manners would have kept you out even without the Area 51 sign! How fun that they came out of your house to invite you in!

    I think my favorite was the "Color Garden". What a fun idea for turning trash into treasure. The white picket fence in back and the white stones in front compliment it perfectly.

    If the shady alcove is near the color garden as well as the fairy garden, that would be perfect!

    Good luck with the ABCs. Maybe this time you'll miss the middle and get to the end. Can't wait you see what you can do with an "X" and a "Y" and a "Z"!

  27. Jackie ~ Dryfus! *smacks forehead* Of course. I could remember it was two syllables and had a "D" in it and was also a human's name, but for the life of me I couldn't find that file in my befuddled brain. Thank you for saving me from insanity, and do please give sweet Dryfus a kiss for me! :-) That name really fits him. We changed two of our dogs' names also ~ Willow was "Perdy" (ugh) and Tessa was "Grace," which was pretty enough but bless her heart, she's the klutziest dog I've ever known! She wasn't very responsive to "Grace," and one morning shortly after she came to live with us she overheard us talking about a dog we knew named Tessa, and every time we said that name she responded. So she chose her new name! :-)

    I'm not surprised in the least that you're familiar with the Nearings! You would really enjoy visiting the Good Life Center, it was interesting and inspiring.

    I'm not sure why your comments have such unorthodox line breaks in them, but it makes them look like poetry! :-)

    Spud ~ I agree with you about Al and Jackie's garden and wish you could have been there in person with us! We, too, are glad to have discovered new friends and their beautiful gardens! :-)

  28. Jo ~ I'm really glad Barbara told me about that too. I recently found this brief blurb on the subject and linked to it in my post, too.

    LOL - You're thinking of Peggy and her beautiful home in Boulder she invited us in to see, aren't you? If I do have a knack (or good luck) for this, I must have inherited it from my mother. Remember when Geraldine Page invited Mom into her dressing room to chat? :-)

    With your quilter's eye for colors, I'm not surprised you like the Color Garden best! But did you notice this treasure among all the others there? I took this closeup with you in mind! The shady alcove is a bit of a distance from the Color Garden (the Fairy Garden more or less connects them), but you can see it from there. So you could relax in the shady alcove and enjoy views of the Color Garden shining brightly in the sunshine.

    You're so sadistic about those difficult letters! LOL But I'll see what I can do when they roll around. I have another 10 weeks to ponder them, thank goodness!

  29. I had not scoped out that beautiful swan art in the colorful garden but now that you point it out, I can just spot it. Thanks much for the close-up though.

    Not sadistic my good friend - just confident that you will find a clever way to do something fun with those hard letters!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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