Ramblings of a "New American" Gardener

Mobile and mobility

October 14, 2013

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I didn’t know I needed a red mobile in my garden.

Susan Cohan came to visit on a recent Saturday. She saw a sign for exhibits of local sculptors. We were passing John McDivit’s place on River Road and and Susan suggested we stop to take a look.


I was intrigued. I’ve had a circle of red logs in my garden for several years (love the red against the greens of the garden). We talked. I emailed John from North Carolina last week to ask about the durability of the steel and finish (very durable) and how to hang the mobile from high in the trees. We both agreed we don’t climb trees. 


So still in North Carolina, I emailed Bruce Gangewar, who owns a fabulous nursery and garden design business–Paxson Hill Farm–just across the Delaware in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Bruce said, “Sure, Jim. No problem.”


It did take several hours to get the cable in place, time for Bruce return to Paxson Hill to get a 15-foot step ladder.


While he was away, Randy Harris, a photographer for the New York Times, arrived to shoot the garden for an article to appear on Thursday of this week. Randy’s a great guy, funny, fully ready to recount his many adventures with grizzly bears and other wild men.




After he finished his work, we all set out on the terrace, had cups of powerful coffee–it was a beautiful, cool, breezy day– and talked for about an hour as the sun dropped toward the horizon and the shadows grew long.


Then today, I spiffed up the garden for a group of 17 from the Williams Township Garden Club in Easton, Pennsylvania. Another beautiful day, and I think everyone enjoyed visiting the garden.

All this just the start of a very busy week … Thursday, 35  visitors arrive from the Master Gardeners of Mercer County in the Princeton area, then Saturday the Garden Conservancy Open Days tour will take place from 10 am to 4 pm. Last summer we had over 200 visitors.

I don’t know what to expect this time. I think I’m the only garden open in New Jersey or eastern Pennsylvania, and it’s getting late for garden tours (something I don’t understand; it’s the perfect time of year to see gardens). But the Times article may bring a flush of unexpected people.

I certainly wouldn’t mind a touch of frost one night this week, a quick shock of cold to bring on more autumn colors.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Don Statham October 14, 2013 at 8:00 am

James- I agree the red look stunning against the green foliage and the mobile suspended in air really makes the place more magical if that’s possible! Look forward to the article in the Times. Don


James Golden October 14, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Thanks, Don. Red and green–yes.


Diana Studer October 29, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Christmas colours. I choose a vivid blue to sing against a mostly green garden.


Kerry October 14, 2013 at 9:05 am

I LOVE the red mobile. It’s like an exclamation mark and a period at the same time. It pops and is peaceful at the same time.


James Golden October 14, 2013 at 9:32 pm

It really blends in silently and, as it turns in the breeze, disappears entirely at times (when the red circles are seen on edge). It also suggests new ideas for planting beneath it.


Su October 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm

So happy to have been the catalyst of this wonderful addition to your garden. Art are gardens are completely sympatico and the mobile not only will add a counterpoint of color and form to what you have, but will also add another layer of movement and vertical interest. BRAVO for getting it!


James Golden October 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm

It does help carry the garden up into the trees. And at the distance from which it’s seen, the effect is subtle. Thanks for reinforcing my passing fancy.


Christina October 15, 2013 at 1:01 am

It will be interesting to see what the effect is when the trees lose their leaves.


James Golden October 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Yes, I’m wondering if I’ll want to change the color.


michael B. Gordon October 15, 2013 at 5:17 am

The mobile is very cool! I like the idea if the grounded verticals contrasting and harmonizing with the heavenly rounds. What a busy month. Looking forward to Thursday’s NYTimes.


James Golden October 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Thanks, Michael. The mobile moves all the time, and half the time it’s on edge and virtually invisible. A soft, subtle presence.


Helen October 15, 2013 at 6:28 am

They look amazing. I have never really been one for art in the garden until I visited gardens in San francisco back in July and was completely won over.


James Golden October 15, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I agree with you about art in the garden. I have two other pieces, but they are very abstract and have a color approximating dead plants or dirt, so a gentle presence.


Cindy at enclos*ure October 16, 2013 at 8:45 am

Looking at these pictures, the red mobile seems essential. Do you have beech trees back in your woods? I imagine that the red would look amazing against their cream leaves in the winter.


James Golden October 18, 2013 at 7:15 am

Yes, there are beeches in the woods. I’m interested to see how it looks when the leaves all fall (except the beech leaves, which remain on the trees).


Of Gardens October 16, 2013 at 4:44 pm

The red is a powerful statement. Well done! It looks amazing. I believe one has to be cautious about art in the garden ( as I wrote about on ofgardens when I put a sculpture in my garden) but here is nothing cautious about your red mobile and it looks amazing


James Golden October 18, 2013 at 7:16 am

It may be red, but from the distance from which it’s viewed, it’s a quite thing. Not at all in your face.


G. Marantz October 22, 2013 at 4:19 am

May I suggest to get a good look at the garden to a Google Earth search and get a sattelite view


Jeff Marcin October 23, 2013 at 11:06 am


I saw the article on your place yesterday in the NYT and really enjoyed it. I have always had wild-looking gardens, not on purpose, and have seen some beauty in them when others didn’t. Your garden gives me hope that maybe my plot of weeds can someday turn into something.

Jeff Marcin
Issaquah, WA


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