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The Lady and the Arbor Garden

No part of my landscape has been more challenging than the Arbor Garden.It is located in the sloping clearing that once held my children's playground, a shady space on the edge of untamed wildness. Initially I dreamed of a formal retreat, an enclosed garden room bordered by evergreens and decorated with ferns and fragrant flowers.Maidenhair fern grows in two different pots in the Arbor Garden.

Fatshedera 'Angyo Star' is located at the entry to the Arbor Garden.

This variegated fig in the Arbor Garden is not hardy; it comes inside for the winter.The garden is still evolving. Formality has been a hard thing to achieve, but from the beginning I loved the spot for its proximity to wild life. Many birds nest in the area, and some stay year round.

Red-shouldered hawks help keep the population of voles in the Arbor Garden under control.

Originally I named this area the Lady Garden, after an elegant lady head container I placed there. Then a blogger in the UK got the nerve to inform me that in his part of the world "lady garden" referred to certain unmentionable parts of a woman's anatomy. That gave me something to think about. Now I knew why my post Sounds I Hear in the Lady Garden received so many hits!

Well, I wasn't going to change the name because of that, but two things eventually convinced me to rename the area to the Arbor Garden. One, the addition of an entry arbor meant the space now contained two arbors, the first being an arbor with a swing.This view of the Arbor Garden shows the entry arbor.Two arbors? Wasn't "Arbor Garden" the logical name?

The second reason was that I relocated the Lady to the woodland garden. This happened after she suffered a serious compound skull fracture earlier this year. I had brought her into the house prior to replanting. She was in the kitchen a few days before I got around to it, and when I started to move her, a huge chunk of her head fell off. I was horrified and could not understand, for I had barely touched her. I decided the terra cotta must have become fragile over the years, though I had always been careful to bring her inside during winter to prevent frost damage.

My Husband Lou was very solicitous. He told me to buy a new one, but I thought I could put her back together with Gorilla Glue, which is strong enough to repair everything from broken cars to marriages. It worked, though I did not know that Gorilla Glue expanded dramatically. My Lady was left with a terrible, thick keloid scar.

I tried to disguise the scar with paint. What I thought was gray paint ended up being blue once it dried, but I wasn't particularly unhappy with the effect. I splotched some more blue paint here and there to make it look like it was designed to be that way. When it was time to put her back outside, I decided to place her by the woodland steps, a new beginning for her post-trauma days. Here she is, before and after:

Meanwhile, Lou continued to express concern. He knew how much the pot meant to me. He was glad the Gorilla Glue worked, and he thought the blue paint looked fine.

Then my son said to me, "You know he broke it, don't you?"

"What?!! He broke it?"

"Yes, he knocked it over. It hit the floor hard. He didn't tell you?"

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I imagine Lou did not realize it was cracked. The soil and plants must have held it together until I touched it. But to this day he has not confessed. And he does not know that I know. Unless he reads this post. 


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Reader Comments (22)

Dear Deb, kudos to you for a well written post! I had to chuckle a couple of times :-)! Especially the "Lady Garden part" is quite amusing. But what ever the name of that part of you garden is, I think you have been very successful in creating a beautiful garden room. I love the arbor with the swing and imagine to have a seat there and take it all in: nature, the chirping of the birds, the lovely man-made or should I say lady-made plantings. I am just curious, are you taking the time to sit there and enjoy? It would be too bad if you don't.
Wishing you a nice rest of the Sunday!

September 13, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterchristina

I too am amazed by the lovely garden spaces you have created. Where do you get the energy. I can barely keep up with what I have. I start to think about moving some transplants but then think oh no that would be another area to mulch and weed. I stop myself. I chuckled too at several points in this blog post. Thanks for the laughs.

September 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarcia

Your arbor swing looks very inviting, and I like the way your lady looks with her blue paint. The story about Lou having caused the damage but being afraid to admit it is hilarious. Have you told him you know and let him off the hook, or are you going to milk that guilt-ridden solicitousness for as long as possible? ;-)

September 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJean

OK, so I was giggling out loud and my husband asked, "What?" So, I had to share the story. He was amused, too! I can so see that happening with a member of the family knocking something over and not mentioning it. ;-) It's a beautiful new garden "room," a beautiful pot, and a beautiful post!

September 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

Hello everyone! Thank you all for taking time to comment. I appreciate each one. Jean, I have not told Lou I know. I am saving that for just the right moment!

September 13, 2015 | Registered CommenterDeborah Elliott

The story made me smile Debs :) the lady is looking fine even after its cosmetic surgery, and so is the arbour garden!

September 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

You achieved something very special with this post; you made lots of us smile - not once but several times! I had certainly never heard the referenced to the Lady garden (I must have led a sheltered life). Poor Lou, he must be feeling very guilty, definitely make the most of it, but I suspect he knows now, the same son who told you will have told him unless of course it was the son who broke the Lady. The Arbour garden is lovely, I like the idea of the swing seat maybe I'll borrow the idea for my new secret garden. We saw lots when we were in the States and I even swung in one when we were in Crested Bute.

September 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

I enjoyed reading this post, Deb! The comment about your "Lady garden" post reminded me of the unexpected traffic I received in response to my "pretty weeds" post a couple of year's ago. And the combination of your husband's duplicity and concern with your efforts to restore the lady was, as the media would say, priceless.

September 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

That's funny about the "Lady Garden". I never would have thought of that. Love the photo of the Cooper's Hawk. Your arbor garden looks like a very beautiful, restful place. As for Lou, maybe he is suffering from temporary amnesia.

September 14, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjason

Really cute story, Deb. I bet he did not know it broke. Your hawk has a great overview of the beautiful gardens, he may just move in permanently. I do love the Arbor Garden, especially well-planned too.

September 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

That's hilarious about 'lady garden' driving traffic to your blog.

So, if I wanted to increase my visitor count, I should look up naughty euphemisms and incorporate them into my post titles? Hm....

As for the blue paint and the lady head planter, I think it looks marvelous -- like it was meant to be that way.

September 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAaron Dalton

Such an interesting garden montage, I do fancy the swing and arbor. I built a 20 X 20 porch so that I could have a spot for my swing to sit in and watch out over my garden.

September 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie@Seattle Trekker

Hahaha! That gave me quite a chuckle! Your arbor with the swing is gorgeous. I'm very interested in how the garden progresses - I have my eye on a spot in our wild back 40 that would make a lovely garden room if only all the wildness could be tamed. It's a project for in another few years. The poor lady sculpture. I had to laugh at Lou being outed by your son, though!

September 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

I started howling at compound skull fracture and it just got better. Thanks for the delicious laugh. I'm envious of your "head pot." I've looked into them and they are a tad pricey for my budget. One day, maybe...

September 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

Deb loved this post!
In a world where lol is overused I have to say I really did laugh out loud. Oh my Gosh "Sounds I hear in the lady garden" so funny!
As for the your "lady" she is better than ever in appearance and life story. Lou has inadvertently enhanced your gardens story & on a side note your garden wouldn't be the same without his round boxwoods.
: )

September 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Perhaps all your Lady of the Arbor needs is a new hairdo, something with bangs to cover her scars. After all, that's what we do, right? I often call my bangs Nature's Botox! Maybe some moss, or a plant that hangs just so onto her face.

September 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

The Lady is looking fine, and happily smiling to herself.

September 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

Deb - Timber Press has a new book out. I assume it's new since they are emailing me about it. THE MAGICAL WORLD OF MOSS GARDENING by Annie Martin.

September 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

I'm sorry, I know i shouldn't be laughing at this unfortunate accident...but I'm giggling, and outright laughing...it's too funny.

Deb, I'm in love with your arbor garden...sigh...it's beyond my imaginings .....sigh. Gorgeous.


September 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ The Light Laughed

Haha, you are such a wonderful storyteller. So funny and entertaining. I feel a bit sorry for Lou.

September 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

What a beautiful peaceful spot that must be so well worth the effort.

September 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

I like the lady with the blue paint too. Funny about Lou ... I wonder if he will find out that we are all in the know ...

September 26, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercatmint

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