May 11th, 2011

Diamonds in the Rough and Other Adventures with Patrick Dougherty

The Meadow is morphing......

The Meadow is morphing......

Note: Over the next few weeks, we will bring you updates on the progress of the Patrick Dougherty stick sculpture installation at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. We are calling this 3 week transformation of the Anderson Meadow  a “Meadowmorphosis.” We will celebrate the completion of the fantasy-like structure with a naming ceremony at Spring Fling on May 22nd. When the work is complete, you will be able to walk through it and peek out openings. The sculpture will be part of the Garden’s landscape as long as Nature allows, so look forward to enjoying it with seasonal changes (and even lighted at GardenFest!)  To get an idea of the type of structure he is building, take a look at some photos of Patrick Dougherty’s other work.

by Randee Humphrey, Director of Education, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

WOW! Day 6 of actual construction is now ended, and one of the diamond shapes now has a finial—top-knot—exclamation point at its first finished peak. I understand there was a round of applause when it was completed! Thanks to our constant volunteers—always ready to take direction and help with whatever is needed. More “strippers” have come forward, and we appreciate all their help. Stick Mountain is slowly fading away as the leaves are removed and the bundles are woven into the structure.

We’ve had a lot of public interest in the sculpture project.  The most often asked questions are “will we be able to move through it?” (Answer: “yes, it will feel very maze-like”) and “how long will it last?” (Answer: “that is hard to predict, but we hope at least a year or more—we will light it for GardenFest 2011”).

Day 7

Does it get any better than this?  The cloudy morning gave way to a beautiful blue sky, sun, slight breeze, and the perfume of the roses wafting over to the Anderson Meadow.  Construction on the sculpture continued today at a deliberate pace, with plenty of volunteers to strip leaves, hustle bundles up the scaffolding, and weave sticks into the walls of the structure.  Patrick and Andy “pulled” a second rounded dome, with the inspiring Conservatory looming on the horizon beyond.  I gave out only one Band-Aid and we left the site a bit tidier than yesterday—a very good day all around.

Our guests stop and ply us with wonderful questions and express amazement at how fast the sculpture is coming together.  A common theme in their observations is what a wonderful place the Garden is—“such a gem” and “so family-friendly”—it’s clear that our guests are a bit amazed by all that we offer and feel very privileged to witness this particular project taking shape before their eyes.

A clutch and whirlwind of boy-energy — I’m guessing all under the age of 8 — stopped by after an afternoon in the Children’s Garden.  I loved the way they immediately recognized the very special nature of what Patrick is building.  We talked about the fact that no material other than sticks is being used—no nails, screws, or clamps are tying the sculpture together.  And of course the boys connected what they saw to the bird’s nest that right now in the Children’s Garden is housing baby robins.

There are wonderful stories being shared every day in the Anderson Meadow—I hope you’ll come and add yours to our growing collection!  And take a look at the growing number of Meadowmorphosis images on our Flickr site—you can find a link on our online community page, along with links the Garden’s YouTube channel (featuring Patrick Dougherty movies) and more.

I hope to see you in the Meadow!


Randee Humphrey, the Garden’s Director of Education, heads up a team of accomplished educators and program developers who design public, school, and special audience programs, educational exhibits and interpretation, and community engagement initiatives and partnerships. She loves how Beautiful RVA serves as a natural extension of the Garden’s heartfelt mission, as well as her own mission to live fully, be present, and serve others.

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