I learnt a new word in Austin – tchotchke. I think it is a Jewish word and it means a small object that is decorative rather than strictly functional, a trinket. Just as when I visited gardens in San Francisco, I was intrigued by the amount of objects some of the gardens contained. I don’t think this is particularly a trend in the UK. We have statues, garden ornaments and water features, and maybe the odd decorative metal watering can but I don’t think we display objects in the same way.
I wonder if it is something to do with the climate. The warmer temperatures in both cities lead the inhabitants to use their outside space far more than we do in the UK. We talk grandly about garden rooms but, really we are just not in the same league, which you realise when you see gardens which have outside kitchens, pizza ovens and grills. Anyway, I suppose if you spend a lot of time outside and you don’t have rain as much as we do then you start to think about your outside space much as you would a room and why wouldn’t you want to add various trinkets.
Just as I when came back from San Francisco wanting to paint my shed orange (rest assured I didn’t it wouldn’t have looked right) I came back from Austin wanting to tchotchke up my garden. Whilst, I don’t think I will ever be in Lucinda Huston’s league, I have included a few ideas that I have taken home from Colleen Jamison, Pam Penick and Jenny Stocker’s gardens. All of which would work back here in the UK (see above and gallery below).
Before I come to Lucinda Huston’s garden and knick knacks (that’s what we call trinkets in the UK) I wanted to share with you two of my favourite things from a garden whose name I can’t find as I have lost my itinerary, but they were just so different and too big really to fit in the tchotchke category but they did make me smile
You see lots of bottle trees in the US. Apparently they are meant to ward off bad spirits or catch hexies – I’m not sure – but they generally seem to be made up of blue bottles but in this garden we saw a lovely subtle green bottle one and then this confection which is just so outrageous you have to smile.
But the Queen of tchotchke has to be Lucinda Huston and her tequila garden. Whilst the house and garden are small they punch well above their weight in impact. These photos are just some of my favourite bits, there was much much more, all in bright colours. I found it quite overwhelming but as you start to take it all in you notice that everything is carefully thought about and arranged. This isn’t some random collection of stuff; there are themes and everything is displayed to its best advantage. I have to admit that I was stunned at how tidy it all was. If you just take the cabinet at the top of this post – if I had such a display cabinet in my garden I can guarantee that it wouldn’t be that neat, it would have old leaves and bit of grit on the shelves and in her house, which has as much if not more on display, it is immaculate, not a bit of dust to be seen. It made me feel exhausted just thinking about all the work Lucinda must put in to keep it looking so pristine.
So no sooner had I got back to the UK than I was digging out the couple of garden ornaments I have and putting them out in the garden – understated but a start.