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Report From PIA – June 29

In the old days, when I worked as an artist with photo-generated collage, some of my pieces had the look of a written and visual journal. This work often contained faux writing, and when people would invariably ask, “What does it say?” I’d respond that it said whatever the viewer wanted it to say. The problem with putting actual words in a piece like this is that people don’t look at it as a whole, but stop and read the text.

This came to mind today as I made out a few, and let me stress that word few, labels in preparation for the garden tour tomorrow.

I’ve visited gardens in the past where every plant is labeled. This is informative, but incredibly distracting. What it comes down to is a decision about whether you want a garden, or a plant museum.

Botanical gardens are well served to label their plants as education is a primary mission. In other public landscapes such signs distract from the experience of moving through the garden. Mytoi Garden on Chappaquiddick Island comes to mind…

In my own gardens, I’d like people to know that one area is a rain garden, another a fragrance garden and that the thin strip below the vegetables is called Annual Alley. Other than that, I prefer to go with the saying, “Don’t read them the recipe, feed them the cake!”

If you come to Poison Ivy Acres, you’ll get few labels and a great deal of cake.

Here's an example of my collage work that contains "faux writing". This one is called, "Found, Cape Ann"

For those gardens that I thought needed labels, I took scrap pieces of stone and wrote on them with a Sharpie.

I think that it might enhance the experience of this entry garden for people to know that I've used a color theme here. Beyond that, however, labels would get in the way of the experience of the garden.

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