Gardening Magazine

Tall, Dark and Handsome

By Gardenamateur

My latest cunning plan occurred to me many years ago, and it only came to fruition last Wednesday. Patience rewards those who wait. As soon as I saw the famous Chinese terracotta warriors, I wanted one – as garden art in my garden (although the unkind might think of him as a gnome - heaven forbid!). I don't care what people think. Now I have one, and he's tall, dark and handsome and I've found him a nice spot, too.
Tall, dark and handsomeAt the Art Gallery of New South Wales, here in Sydney, they're staging an exhibition of some of the famous Terracotta Warriors from China. Fabulous exhibition, well worth getting to if you are in Sydney. My nephew Neil visited China last year, went to the Terracotta Warrior site in China but also went to the Sydney exhibition a few weeks ago, and said he learned more about them here in Sydney than he did in China. But of course seeing them ALL in China was a truly wonderful experience. Like Neil, I learned so much in this excellent and beautiful display. And then, in the Art Gallery shop that inevitably follows on from every major art exhibition, there he was. About 30cm tall, very striking, and a bit expensive ($90). But I had to get him, I had wanted a terracotta warrior in my garden for many years. (Of course real Terracotta Warriors are real size, 190cm tall, so a mere 30cm tall copy-warrior fits my small garden so much better!)
Tall, dark and handsomeHe's not the first famous personage which I have borrowed for service in my garden. This Bart Simpson shampoo bottle is one-foot-tall perfect gnome size, and provided his little plastic body stays in the cool shade, he should be here for years.
Tall, dark and handsomeUntil the terracotta warrior arrived on the scene, security duties here in Amateur Land have been very ably covered by this hand-painted postman gnome, who I turned into a combat gnome with a splash of camouflage colours. Now, with the ancient warrior to lend a hand, I am sure he will be glad to have an increased force.
Tall, dark and handsomeThere was an important lesson I learned several years ago about the placement of objects in my garden, and that is 'respect'. I wanted a Buddha figure to sit at the base of my curry tree, and while I'm not a Buddhist or practitioner of any religion, if I ever turned religious I would probably become a Buddhist. And so I got in contact with a local Buddhist ashram, explained my somewhat quirky desire to have a Buddha figure close to my curry tree (reclining on a mother-of-pearl shell), and I learned a few things in that conversation. It's respectful to not have Buddha in a lowly position, such as down on the ground. That's OK. He's sitting in the garden's largest pot, in a nicely elevated spot. And then the Ashram person asked me: "Does Buddha have a nice outlook?" and I replied "Well, I guess he actually has the best view in the garden, and sees the setting sun every day." And so I relaxed, I had treated Buddha with respect.
Tall, dark and handsomeI bore this lesson in mind when finding a suitable post for my Terracotta Warrior. He's close to Buddha's curry tree, also facing the setting sun. He has a traditional Chinese money tree behind him, and my most beautiful and fragrant herb bush, my sage plant, around him at the front. Hopefully he likes his spot. I think it's the second best one in the garden, and I don't think he'd begrudge Buddha the best seat in the house.


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