Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Kiss: Gardening with Gustav

Have you ever seen a piece of art and imagined it as a garden? I am not a horticulturalist, garden designer or landscape architect. My only design experience comes from moving seventeen times in thirty four years and always having to cram my stuff into a new house and find a way to make it look appealing. But I am an art lover.



My garden curves around an elliptical lawn.

I recently returned from a trip to Vienna, Austria and Budapest, Hungary where I was able to finally see in person the art that inspires my garden. When my husband was given an offer to stay in the apartment of work colleague in Vienna, we cashed in some frequent flyer miles, packed our bags and headed for Austria. Exhausted from a long flight but determined to stay awake to adjust to a different time zone, we dropped our bags off and hopped the tram to the Belvedere. 



Most of the trams were sleek and modern, but we ended up on an older one a few times. They were old fashioned and quaint but still in excellent condition.



Vienna is a very clean, orderly city with clocks everywhere. I don't think they run on Tammytime. Even the plants were expected to conform and behave.

The Belvedere Gallery is home to Gustav Klimt's iconic painting, The Kiss and was in the midst of an extended Klimt exhibit. Seeing amazing art can be a physical, visceral experience. A huge square painting, I love the richness of the decorative abstraction, the sunniness of the gold leaf, and the focus on the couple. Although art critics have implied that The Kiss is a prelude to a more passionate ending, I don't see it that way at all. To me, it is simply a tender, blissful moment between two people in love, which is more powerful and enduring than anything accomplished while naked.


Gustav Klimt was a rebellious painter, determined to do everything his way. The woman in the painting is rumored to be his best friend and lover, Emilie Floge, a wise woman who refused to marry him but endured his tendency to bed his models, fathering over 14 children.




I thought the windows peeking out from the roof 
on this house in Budapest looked like eyes.


While this may look like a set from a Disney movie, it's known as the Fisherman's Bastion and offers incredible views of Budapest.

Like the embrace in the painting, my garden is a hug, the edges pulling inward to envelop those in the center. It is a soft place, calm and cheerful. I have been told it isn't edgy enough, spiky enough, or tropical enough. But my garden is exactly enough of what I need. My garden is my art, a steady embrace that pulls me in and keeps me centered. It is the novel I will never write and the plants quirkier than any character I could imagine. It is the painting and sculpture I have no ability to create. It is my own kiss.




I thought the Japanese beetles would devour my roses while I was gone, but a few Abraham Darby roses bloomed unnoticed and I found this beauty in the garden waiting for me.

65 comments:

  1. Welcome back Tammy! What a super trip and it must have been so exciting! What a bonus to see the Klimpt exhibition as I know he is one of your favorites, you must have been over the moon. Gustav must have been a busy boy, all that art and 14 kids with many partners!! I can't ever imagine anyone criticizing your garden, seriously?!? Is a slice of Eden you have created and nurtured and it reflects your soul. They were just probably a bunch of jealous old crumbums. Send them over here and I will set them straight. I sure get tired of negativity, bah! Not only do we all get to share your beautiful garden through your blog, we all learn from your successes and less than successes, learn about neonics, plant propagation, design and the rewards of plain hard work! Thank you!

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    1. Thanks for the love! You are such a great cheerleader. :o) Gardening can be trendy and my garden is like a comfortable, old couch but that's how I like it.

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  2. That's a lot of moving around! Glad you had this wonderful opportunity Tammy. I admire Klimt's art (and though not widely received by critics, I found Woman In Gold an interesting movie). Sounds as thought your garden is just perfect.

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    1. My father and husband were both career military men so I moved constantly. I enjoyed Woman in Gold and would love to see the painting. Although the woman in The Kiss is probably Emilie Floge she was painted with Adele Bloch-Bauer's crippled hands. My garden is perfect to me and that's all that matters. :o)

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  3. What a wonderful ode to your garden! And how dare someone label your garden in terms of what they think it is not! A garden is an ever-changing creation driven by what the gardener needs and wants it to be, not an abstract construction designed to meet someone else's engineering spec. I'm glad you had the opportunity to enjoy a well-deserved vacation before school starts again.

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    1. Your second sentence is brilliant and pure truth. :o) I put meeting the needs of wildlife and pollinators before design so I will never end up in the pages of Fine Gardening or any other fancy pants magazine but who cares. I sure don't. My garden feeds my soul and at the end of the day I am satisfied and happy. Thanks for so much love and support. :o)

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  4. Your garden is exactly what you want and need it to be--nothing more or less. As it should be. Sounds like a wonderful trip.

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  5. I love this image you've described of your gardening enveloping like the woman in Gustav's painting, You made me realize I feel the same way about my crazy, messy garden! It's always great to leave for a bit so you can come back and love home even more, don't you find?

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    1. It was incredibly hot in Austria/Hungary with very little air conditioning so we were glad to get back to the States. I missed my dogs, my garden, and my bed.

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  6. Sounds like you really enjoyed your trip - I like to think of a garden as a canvas with which to paint a picture - one, which in my case, will never be completed.

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    1. A garden is like kinetic art, always moving and changing. How boring if it were ever finished.

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  7. I saw some of your Facebook post about your trip. Sounds like you had a great time. Welcome back, glad your garden didn't go to pot while you were gone. I always fear that when I travel.

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    1. My 20 yr old daughter did a great job of keeping everything watered. Her job was to keep the dogs and garden alive and she excelled at both.

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  8. Lovely photos of some spots in the world that aren't on my travel bucket list. Maybe I need to add them. :-)

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    1. Vienna was beautiful, very clean, and very orderly but it felt a bit sterile and linear to me. Budapest was much grittier but so beautiful and I really love the rounded curving architecture. A round trip train ticket between Vienna and Budapest was only $160, which was about 181 euro.

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  9. What a great way to stay awake! I visited the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston a few days ago and my mind is still spinning from a few of the paintings I saw for the first time, as well as the stunning courtyard garden. I like your take on The Kiss. There is serenity and bliss in her face and I like that her figure is full formed and, though embraced, still separate.

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    1. I was in Boston last month to see U2 and visited the Gardener, too!! I love that museum. The woman in The Kiss looks like a real woman with real emotions on her face. It feels very intimate and personal to me.

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  10. So nice you were in the Belvedere in Vienna and saw Klimt´s famous ´The Kiss´, I have been there too with my eldest daughter and have nice memories to that trip. You expressed the comparison of this piece of art with your garden wonderfully. I am sure you had a great trip but the embracement of your garden when you came back must have been wonderful too, especially with ´Abraham Darby´ waiting for you.
    Wish you a nice new week in your garden!

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    1. I was very surprised to see Abraham blooming. It was wonderful to have a garden hug waiting for me. :o)

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  11. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! I can't imagine having to have moved all those times - we moved 3 times in 9 years and that was a bit too much for me - I had no energy to devote to the gardens in those houses, especially as I knew we would not be there for long. That is one gorgeous rose, btw - a great welcome home.

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    1. I once lived in Texas for only 5 months and lived in two different houses in both North and South Dakota, giving me 5 moves in 6 years. You learn to only keep what truly matters and not to become overly attached to things. In order to buy something I had to be willing to unpack it while dealing with 2 dogs and 2 kids. I had my first garden in my first house in SD and it was a simple affair, indeed. :o)

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  12. I think we have similar approaches to gardening, wanting our gardens to be warm, soft, abundant, colorful, and embracing. Sounds like you had a real trip of a lifetime! Some day Judy and I will get to that part of the world.

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    1. Absolutely! The trip was wonderful but I wish it hadn't been 100 F.

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  13. What a marvelous place to visit, a place certainly on my wish list! I too love that painting and agree that it's a tender moment and I simply love how you compare it to you beautiful garden. I too only grow what pleases me and ignore trends etc....good grief gal, that is one hellova lot of moves....hoping you aren't planning another any time soon!xxx

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    1. I'm in Virginia to stay. I refuse to move anywhere. :o)

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  14. P.s....just love your Abe Derby!xxx

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  15. Your gardens are beautiful indeed, and it only matters that YOU are happy with them. Thanks for sharing your interesting trip photos -- it feels like I got to go to Europe without leaving my comfortable armchair! :-) -Beth

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    1. By not leaving your chair, you don't have to worry about losing your luggage. :o)

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  16. What a great trip! I love the description of your garden as a hug. It's perfect. I think any garden should reflect the gardener and her/his passions.

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    1. I think so, too. My garden is also covered in dog hair. :o)

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  17. Klimt and Hundertwasser - Austria is an appealing place.

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    1. I was at the Hundterwasser House, too!! I loved it! I wonder if the interiors are as artsy and interesting as the exteriors.

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  18. What a treat to see some of your trip. Love that painting. I often think of my garden as my art too. Challenging because of weather but still art.

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    1. I think the challenge of it is what keeps it exciting. We succeed when the odds are against us. :o)

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  19. I am envious of your trip, especially to Budapest. Our local art museum is currently having a show of American impressionist with a garden theme. I attended the opening where local garden clubs reinterpreted many of the paintings with flowers.

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    1. Budapest was really cool and very affordable. Vienna was pricey so I'm very glad we had a free place to stay.

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  20. I knew you had to be up to something...it was far too quiet from your blog.
    What an exciting trip to far flung places that I hope to visit one day....glad you had a great time.
    The green hedge does look like it's shouting "Let me outta here!!!!"

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    1. I've never seen a shrub in a cage before. It was so bizarre!! I don't think I'd make a very good Austrian. I'm too nonconformist.

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  21. Welcome back! What an awesome opportunity and even better you went ahead and took advantage. I can see how your garden reflects your love of art, and that's a great way to think of it.

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    1. Some days I think it's a Jackson Pollock painting - a huge colorful mess. ;o)

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  22. How exciting to be able to go to Vienna and Budapest! I was in Vienna once back in my college days, and I remember it being such a beautiful city and so clean! I'm not an artist either, Tammy; in fact, I can't draw much more than stick figures:) So I like to think of my garden as my canvas, too, the only place where I can express myself--in fact, I was thinking of describing as a Jackson Pollock painting before I saw your last comment:) Forget the critics--what makes you happy is all that is important!

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    1. I think it's the cleanest city I've ever been in. But it was wonderful to get away and experience something new.

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  23. What an amazing trip! Art is very like gardens in that it is very personal. Everyone will like something different, and the important thing is to create that which makes one happy. (Though I guess one could argue, in the case of a profession, it would be handy if what one creates also pays the bills.)

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    1. That's why I could never design for a living. I'd have a hard time creating a design I didn't love.

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  24. How wonderful to get a trip like that! And what a drag it was in August! I'm no fan of heat. Oh, but to see Klimt's work in person! I've seen one or two and would LOVE to see an entire exhibit. I'm with everyone else: boooo! to those who criticize a private garden for lacking what they themselves prefer. We create the gardens we are able to, can afford, and, most of all, the gardens that please us. To visit someone's garden is to get to know and appreciate him or her in a fresh way.
    And that rose at the end of your post made me squee! That photo FELT like a kiss or an embrace, like "delight" Truly.

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    1. It was brutally hot with every day averaging around 100 F. Fortunately, our apt had American style air conditioning or we would have melted. I was so happy to see that rose when I came home. It felt like it was popping out to say "Welcome back!"

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  25. How wonderful an opportunity..... Michelle

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  26. You must have had a fabulous time visiting places that I only dream of seeing. The castle certainly could have inspired Disney's Cinderella Castle. Isn't it beautiful? We are always surprised when our gardens go on without us. Beautiful rose.

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    1. My daughter did a good job of taking care of everything. One shrub suffered pretty badly but it will be ok. :o)

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  27. Sure your trip has been gorgeous Tammy. I have to Vienna and Budapest several times and I love both cities. Glad you liked museum in Vienna and this well known painting by Gustav Klimt. Your flowers especially a rose is very pretty.

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  28. I have seen Klimt's The Kiss in reproduction so many times, but never in person. It is one of those paintings whose qualities you just can't reproduce. One day I would love to stand in front of it and take it in.
    Have you seen the movie about another Klimt artwork that was seized by the Nazis? I don't know how accurate the movie was, but it is an interesting story.

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    1. I saw The Woman in Gold and really liked it. I was surprised by the raised portions of The Kiss. I didn't realize how much dimensionality it had. I was dying to touch it but didn't think being arrested would be a good way to start my trip.

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  29. It must have been a very interesting trip. I was in Vienna for a month when I was 24 and I only have good memories about it!

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  30. Sounds like you had a great time on your trip to Europe!
    Like you, I look at my garden as a place where I can express my artistic views, and I don’t really care how fashion trends say it is supposed to be this year or next year – I do it the way I like it :-)
    And I have also moved rather more times than I ideally liked to – the new house I moved into in May was the 24th house I have ever lived in, counting from birth. My father was an army officer so we moved a lot when I was a child, but I have certainly done my fair share of moving after leaving home as a 16 year old. I know how to pack up a house – and a garden, but I hope this was my last move!

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    1. That is a lot of houses! My father was in the military as was my husband. ;o)

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  31. I loved this post! I see my garden as my art:-) I will never write a novel either or paint a great piece of artwork that people travel far to see....but I can create a place to express myself...thank you for saying what many of us feel. I have to say....17 times moving! That would drive me nuts for I am married to a packrat-LOL:-) I packrat palnts!

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  32. Lovely post! My husband's mother was born in Hungary and we took her there for her 80th birthday in 2001. Beautiful place. We are going to Salzburg in October and I can't wait. Vienna too is a beautiful ancient city. I love your pictures and your words Tammy. You write beautifully!

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  33. What an exciting adventure! I can see why they call those eyebrow windows. What a treat to experience a favorite piece of art in person. Such a different experience that just seeing copies. our gardens are our art. I'm still at the finger painting stage but whatever makes us happy, right?

    Wishing you the best school year yet!

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  34. What a wonderful excursion and good for you to go....I thought I had moved a lot but you have me beat Tammy. I love your philosophy that your garden is enough for you...it is art, our creative art and a fabulous welcome home with that stunning rose!

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  35. What a great trip and how wonderful to see this iconic picture for yourself. Our gardens are all works of art , the ones I like best are like Climt' s painting; sensuous and rich in colour and detail.

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