“picturesque” maybe

One dictionary defines “picturesque” as: visually charming or quaint, as if resembling or suitable for a painting.

pear treeIt 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…

Dr. Syntax plans

…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.

susan vineThere is something nice about the constrast between the sweet blossoms and the old dead limb. Perhaps.


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.

graderAnd 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.

horse-drawn road graderKinda cute. Or anyway you get used to it.

PS: I promised Max I would alert you to his
new beach trip story on the Garden-dog page.


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
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28 Responses to “picturesque” maybe

  1. Grace says:

    I had to really study that first Picturesque photo–an oddity verging on anomaly. You gotta love Mr. O’s ornament. Truly a relic. Oh the stories it could tell…

    • linniew says:

      Yes the half-tree needs a cleaner background but not to be found. And if we had a horse Mr. O would be grading the gravel drive with that machine…

  2. Bridget says:

    Seems like we’re both a bit into the history stuff. That Oak with the “bustle” loks to me like the body of a big stag with 2 horns growin straight up.

  3. kininvie says:

    Linnie, Definitely a horse-drawn grader has style. Would it be a Gallion or an Adams perchance? (You see what a bit of googling can do on the erudition stakes). I don’t think such things exist here – although standing stones are two-a-penny. Perhaps we could arrange a swap?

    • linniew says:

      I asked Mr. O about the grader maker– he said it just has “Carnegie” stamped in the metal, and its date is 1900. He also suggested that any horse-drawn graders in your neighborhood might have been recycled during production for World War II. He recalls the missing iron fences in England when he studied there one year, the metals were said to have gone to the war effort… Now I would most cheerfully post you the grader for a good stone, but really with the costs of oil and the weight of the barter, I would have to sell my land to pay shipping and I can’t imagine a standing stone in a rented apartment. Hard to take it upstairs for one thing. So maybe not. Just another example of the need to shop locally.

  4. Greggo says:

    Perfectly entertaining or picturesque to me..

  5. Fay says:

    Now, linnew you know, I think I know where a *few* large standing stones are, they are currently part of a circle but hey, sure no on would miss just one…….might be a trifle large to post to you though. I’m with mr o, if the machine moved I’d be aimlessly driving up and down grading gravel, just for kicks! Love the trees and the vine……..oh how I miss trees. Great post, laughed heartily when you confessed not driving into the tree! Fay

    • linniew says:

      Yes Fay I think I have ruled out the option of importing stones. Dang. We don’t have a horse and I’m not towing the grader with my little car so I guess it remains a sculpture or whatever it is. Wish I could send you some hardy trees that could flourish in your weather!

      Love reading your blog–

  6. Angie Case says:

    Kids here are planning a pirate invasion the second week of September, (In honor of my 47th b.day, eghads!) mind if I borrow your grader to knock down 29 acres of grass and level an area for our fire dancers? (I’ll bring it right back!) Good to see your garden again, I’ve missed tromping around in it with you! By the by, where’s Tillie these days?

    • linniew says:

      You can use the grader Angie but you will need a horse to pull it. Wow Happy coming Birthday! It will be a great party. I’ll look south and maybe I will be able to see the tips of the flames… If I see Tillie I will send her down to celebrate. I think she’s hiding so I won’t ask her to help me paint.

  7. I guess the word can have a different way to look at the meaning. But the grader does look like a magazine image.

  8. Sheila says:

    What is life without the picturesque?

    I’m curious what actually happened to the bottom half of the pear trunk?

    Perfect plants (or gardens) are boring …

    • linniew says:

      You are so kind, Sheila! (No boring in my garden.) But I was quite honest (honesty being the etc etc) about the pear tree. As far as I know it is just failing right there in the middle. An odd kind of aging, but I can relate to that.

  9. b-a-g says:

    Please tell Mr O. that he has a fan in the UK !

  10. It is always amazing to me how beautiful the old looks in the garden. Perhaps we envision our picturesque as the past with the present….hm-m-m. Your photos are very beautiful and inspiring.

  11. Dear Linnie, We have an old pear tree almost as odd (sorry – picturesque) as yours. We also have several old farm implements lying around that my husband thinks are picturesque, but I think are junk. Beauty, and other attributes, are in the eye of the beholder, I guess. Love this posting. P. x

    • linniew says:

      Dear Soul-mate Pam
      Yes we must just endure these beautiful broken rusty things, and the stuff they collect too 😉 (So glad I’m not the only one.) Then too, Mr. O keeps on not institutionalizing me and for that I am grateful. – L

  12. Imperfections and oddities (like that amazing pear tree) are some of the things I love in a garden. If everything is too groomed and neat it tends to look too clinical for my taste; like a show garden, rather than a space inhabited by real people.

    And the grader definitely deserves the title “Picturesque”… (Though I sort of understand your desire for a large stone as well; I’ve always liked large stones as focal points in gardens.)

    • linniew says:

      Oh if you like imperfections and oddities well you have come to the right blog… And I heartily welcome you! I do truly share your comfort with those things that suggest actual life as opposed to magazine images. I look forward to visiting your site and I hope that someday we both get giant stones to stand in our gardens for I don’t know why but I do feel it is important.

  13. I have an inkling where I might have gotten my notion that a garden needs large stones from…
    -Please note the 5-foot granite trough in my parents’ garden and the granite upright by the flagpole in my grandparents’ garden – and the large granite boulder to the right of it… Of course stones are important!

    As for imperfections, my garden is nothing but, these days. The lawn mower is out of order, which doesn’t really matter as I can’t be bothered to mow the lawn today. I will fix it and mow the lawn next time I come up here in three weeks. The beds are overgrown with weeds, and I might do a bit about that, but not much. The paving in the courtyard can hardly be seen for weeds, but that I will definitely not do anything about. I will, though, cook myself a nice lunch, sit down with a good book and generally enjoy Life.

    • linniew says:

      That granite trough is absolutely stunning! It is so carefully made, and a lovely shape to situate beside a wall or plant. And huge! (Cute dog there too.) You have the right attitude about gardening– that it be a pleasure and an enhancement to life, not a burden. And now I know about snow lanterns (from one of your posts last winter) and I will make one at the first opportunity. (It may be a while. We don’t get snow often.)

      • The trough came from my great-grandparents’ farmyard… And it wasn’t designed to look pretty, but to feed cattle and horses. -Which obviously makes it even more attractive, right? When my mother inherited it, it took 6 men to get it on a trailer and 4 men to log it down the hill in my parent’s garden to where it is now…

        And snow lanterns? They are pretty, and kids love to make them… (And this adult loves to make them, too…)

  14. Pingback: Cloud Pruning for Beginners | Gardening At The Edge

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