We put away the garden benches yesterday. They’re handsome things: two have blacks, cast iron ends with cedar slats painted a rich green. Those benches would not be out of place in the Tuileries in Paris. The third is metal, cast in the form of a profusion of ferns. It’s in a style that reached its apex in the Beaux Arts period and, as furniture, it’s a gem; a loveseat that’s as much an objet d’art as it is a seating area.
I know I’m not alone in this predicament. Last year we were at a wonderful garden and I admired a rustic retreat set in the woods. I asked the owner how often the little gazebo was used. The response was a rueful shake of the head. “I never have time.”
Often, it seems, such appurtenances are meant for the enjoyment of visitors. When the Medfield Garden Club held its August ‘backyard get-together’ at our home, the benches were both admired and well used throughout the morning and into the afternoon. We had the pleasure to attend a party this summer at the home of a Cape Cod landscaper, who has studded his beautiful property with seating areas large and small. When we had been his lunch guests a few weeks earlier, he allowed that he mostly enjoyed sitting on his deck during the rare times he was not working. That evening, though, his guests made use of every available space, sipping drinks and enjoying the views.
Perhaps the reason is rooted in the possibility of enjoyment. If there were no bench – or gazebo or whatever – we could never sit back and taking pleasure in our gardens. The presence of the benches means that there will at least be an opportunity… if it ever stops raining (or if the mosquitoes go away, the humidity breaks, or any of a dozen reasons we give for staying indoors).
As we put away the benches yesterday, I made a vow that next year will be different. I will make it a point, at least once a week, to go out and sit on those benches. I may take a book or a newspaper, but I will also make certain that I allow adequate time to enjoy the view. A lot of effort has gone into that garden. The least I can do it see it the way visitors do.