One dictionary defines “picturesque” as: visually charming or quaint, as if resembling or suitable for a painting.
It is also sometimes expressed as a combination of the classically beautiful together with its opposite: imperfection, or even horror, all in one view. (I like “horror” — it sounds exciting in a garden.)
At the left we see a pear tree. With pears. And half a trunk.
The tree is otherwise so complete, it almost appears as if that portion of the trunk is just invisible. (I didn’t hit it with my car or anything, it’s just a really old pear tree and this is its idea of aging gracefully.)
This tree grows in one of the more wild areas of my existence, in the realm of Mr. O and his comings and goings with his big work truck. I have very little authority over this region, and Mr. O is one to allow a tree to live out its life until it is actually hortizontal and appropriate for making into lumber, or in this case half pieces of lumber.
In my world there are an alarming number of oddities of this type, and we typically dismiss all worry of them with “But it’s picturesque, don’t you think?” and go on with our peculiar lives.
There were whole books written about the Picturesque as an aesthetic ideal in England in the 18th century. And, in 1868, a satire in verse titled Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque, by William Combe…
…with illustrations –the best part– by Thomas Rowlandson. Here we see Dr. Syntax, with his cat, planning to go on tour to find the Picturesque. (You can read the whole story, and many others, at the Open Library Project.)
And now for something a little more pleasing, I visit (again) the Black-eyed Susan vine, growing on a the structure of a dead lilac whose trunk and one stem were picturesquely preserved in a garden bed.
And here, by Mr. O’s shop, is an oak tree with a bustle. The bustle part is about six feet across and does give that tree a look at least of adequate ballast. But if you were 300 years old you might look a little odd as well– perhaps we will all become picturesque if we live long enough.
And here we have the horse-drawn road grader, my grand finale of things we rationalize as picturesque. Yes you guessed it this is one of Mr. O’s most adored ornaments. It sort of welcomes guests as they drive into our realm, and gives them a heads-up about what else to expect around here. It’s really a kind of agricultural ruin, and while I would rather have a good Greek temple or (even more!) a standing stone, we have this.
PS: I promised Max I would alert you to his
new beach trip story on the Garden-dog page.