Mar 10, 2009

Proposal for a Sprinkler Garden


This was a proposal I wrote for a garden show a few years ago. I was unable to produce the design, because it proved too expensive. Ironically, these days garden shows are being cancelled, for fear of poor attendence.

Like the jingle of coins in the toll basket, the sprinkler is a device disappearing from the American landscape. These aquatic devices remind us of our childhoods and this garden intends to provide an opportunity to experience them again and remember all that we have forgotten... the pure hypnotic delight of watching water rising and falling onto a lawn...the sound of water falling on leaves...the patterns water makes in the air. This garden pays homage to the sprinkler, a device that came of age in the suburbs, but owes its lineage to Pliny, who in his own garden had a curved marble bench from which ‘water gushed out from under the seat as if pressed out by the weight of people sitting on it.’

Upon entering the garden, visitors will be given bright yellow slickers and rubber boots. Their journey begins at Marie Antoinette featuring the fan sprinkler. Next the visitor follows an old-fashioned tractor sprinkler Walk the Line. Around the corner is “Suburbia” a simple patio dotted with chairs beckoning the participant to get their toes wet. As well as experiencing 12 water follies, each section will feature plants appropriate to the theme of the section. As the visitor exits the garden, the words of poet, Howard Nemerov will be engraved in a the bottom of a pool of water:

Take the Beautiful Lawn Sprinkler
What gives it power makes it change its mind
At each extreme, and lean its rising rain
Down low, first one and then the other way;
In which exchange humility and pride
Reverse, forgive, arise and die again,
Wherefore it holds at both ends of the day
The rainbow in its scattering grains of spray.


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