Just Don’t Call It “Whimsical!”

It’s been a pretty bad work week for me, and it’s times like these—when I’m ready to go into full mental-meltdown, panic-attack mode—that I appreciate stuff that makes me laugh. Life (at least on good days) is funny and random and silly—and I love when the environment around me reminds me of this precious fact.

Humor and silliness in a garden usually ends up walking a fine line. I prefer just a hint of cheekiness in a garden. I think too many garden spaces go too far to the extremes: they either take themselves too seriously (think stark, ultra-modern design), or they are over-the-top cutesy/barfy/”whimsical” (think creepy statues of children frolicking, oversized butterflies, and nearly any garden art purchased from an art and wine festival). Hell, I don’t even like the word “whimsical.” For some reason, it gives me the heebie jeebies.

Adding humor to your outdoor spaces is therapeutic. If it makes people smile, then it’s probably a good thing. Unless you have really bad taste. I once had a next-door neighbor who thought it was “cute” to fill a couple of old toilets with plants and put them on display in her front yard. Uhhhh, no. Not cute. Not funny. Not even close.

I’ve compiled a little collection of photos (from my yard and beyond) that inject a bit of the unexpected, the silly, and the slightly ironic into the garden. Sometimes we all need a reminder to lighten up, quit taking life so seriously, and laugh a little.

This tiki guy is from a garage sale. I gave him a succulent 'fro. He's kind of a stalker, always watching, watching.

Crawfish are a pretty cool and strange addition to a water feature. Got it in New Orleans. Brought him home on the plane with me, which drew funny looks all-around.

This is part of the fountain that stands in front of the Pantheon in Rome. Even the Romans have a sense of humor.

This was part of a stone wall built by Mariposa Gardening and Design for the 2011 San Francisco Flower and Garden Show. This would be a funny little element in an otherwise serious garden.

God, I love this garden. Why didn't I think of this first? The juxtaposition of the stripes and the giraffe and the color: scrumptious and funny, too.

This vintage detergent bucket was a major score of mine. I especially love the reference to Monsanto on the bottom. "Where creative chemistry works wonders for you." Phhhhbbbbttttt.

And what's the funniest thing you can put in your garden? Why, a pug, of course. They are hilarious, and quite the cheeky little monkeys.


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