The Rock Pirate and the Artist: Appreciating Garden Art.

I'm not a fan of yard art. To me, the phrase “yard art” evokes images of tired bathtubs repurposed as front lawn container gardens, filled with petunias. Perhaps a neighboring toilet is its companion, displaying fire-engine red geraniums.

My yard art snobbery might stem from my mother, who grew up in a rural area where bathroom fixtures likely frequented lawns. Maybe my aversion comes from my inability to decorate our house—I'm missing that gene that coordinates window treatments and area rugs. Whatever the reason, I've never paid much attention to yard art.

Until now.

Welcome to Wamboldtopia.

For four days, I abandoned my family and my endless garden tasks. Instead, I self-indulgently galavanted around

Asheville, North Carolina

with the

Garden Bloggers' Fling

—a group of approximately 90 passionate garden folks who—you guessed it—blog about gardens.

A tireless group of organizers arranged garden tours, receptions, dinners, and most popularly, incredible ice cream from

The Hop

. (Holy salted caramel deliciousness. I think a weekly road trip to Asheville is on my agenda.) While this was my first Fling, it was the fifth annual event, with the next Fling slated for San Francisco in 2013.

We bounced our way on a school bus (I had the ever-popular-as-a-kid, now not-so-kind-as- an-adult back of the bus hump) to the first garden, where we found...

The Rock Pirate.

An apt name for

Ricki Pierce

, a man who creates amazing structures from stone. Arches, walkways, fences, ponds...all sporting exquisite, extravagant stone work.

If you've ever worked with stone, you understand—this garden wasn't built in a day.

Yet, the gracefulness of Pierce's stonework and its seamless transitions into the surrounding landscape tease the garden guest into thinking: we need this pond in our garden. (Warning, Peter: new project idea!)

Entering Wamboldtopia is daunting—you don't know where to look first. Pierce's stonework is a show stealer—but tucked into every nook and corner is a surprise, some delightful...

...others disturbing.

Interplaying with the stonework is the art of

Damaris Pierce


To quote her website, Wamboldtopia is a place where the “...perfect imperfection of life is allowed to evolve and flourish in all its mystery.”

Mysterious it is. Skeletons...

...fairy hideaways...

...guardians of the garden...

...gnome adversaries...

...and inspiration abound.

Stumbling upon certain displays can be unsettling.

(“Mommy, “ asked Kristen when looking at photos from my trip, “are those really James Sprouse's bones?” Hmmm. Good question. I'd rather not know.)

Others provide sheer delight.

For plant purists expecting an orderly display of the latest, greatest hybrids, Wamboldtopia shocks the senses. Instead, the painstakingly created natural garden provides an ideal marriage of blooms...

...and bizarre.

From the barren house and yard acquired in 1999... the lush, funky, provocative, garden created with passion by the Pierces...

...Wamboldtopia is a labor of love.

Gardeners and artists can agree to the saying which greets guests of Wamboldtopia:

Wamboldtopia. FIlled with light of inspiration, passion, and creativity.

More gardens to come...but now, I must visit our garden. After all, we'll have visitors from the

CFSA Farm Tour

here in less than two weeks—oh my.

XO ~