Monday, April 19, 2010

I’ve been benched!

The worst thing that can happen to an athlete is to be sent to the bench.  Hmmm, upon reflection, perhaps there are worse things (see any article about Tiger Woods).  But “sit on the bench” is certainly not the direction a team player wants to hear from the coach. It can mean you aren’t up to snuff and someone else could do a better job.  Or you are tired and need a break.  Or even that you have a bad attitude and are being reprimanded.  Maybe this explains my reluctance to park myself on one in the garden.  Shades of high school athletics-past surfacing to haunt me.  “But coach, just give me another chance….”

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When I’m on a roll in the garden, getting things done left and right, the sun beating down, and a headache looming (see picture above), my eyes do sometimes furtively dart to the bench nearest me.  “No” I think, “I can keep going.”  Sporting allusions aside, I don’t know why I’m so averse to taking a seat on those benches.  It’s not as if they are rickety, splinter laden, or uncomfortable.  Part of an outdoor dining set, they are quite fetching and the best Mother’s Day gift I have ever received.  When I was in the market for outdoor furniture, I snootily announced that nothing but teak would do.  That meant doing without, as finding teak for sale in Alaska is like finding a Tasmanian wolf: people think they’ve seen it, but it hasn’t been scientifically proven in fifty years.  I struck furniture gold with an ad from the classifieds for a used set.  One trip with the truck, trailer attached, made all my furniture dreams come true: not just one, but three benches and four chairs to lounge about in.  If only.  

Copy of late Sept. 2007 041
Maybe I watch too much nature-related TV.  I am reminded of lions eyeing the dusty multitudes in the wildebeest throng from the shelter of the tall grasses.   Then an individual with a weakness to cut from the herd and attack is spotted.  I don’t need to tell you what happens next.    [Random design aside: I do favor backing benches and chairs up to tall plantings.  Like lions, I favor grasses, but shrubbery works for me, too.  I find plantings over three feet the most satisfying to nestle a bench next to, and plantings under two feet prone to induce a fight-or-flight response at the least sound.]  Sitting on my bench is like a giant psychological concession to the garden lions.  I am in a weakened state, take me down.  And so the benches and chairs are well placed and inviting, but only ever fleetingly glanced at.  The lions are watching.  So is coach.

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My empty chair, above, keeping the (compulsory) blue tarp and kids company, circa 2008.

Any lonely benches or chairs in your garden?    

Check out some other bench stories at Gardening Gone Wild.


Dirt Digger said...
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I can completely relate! And to continue the sports analogy ... I often get the gardening head rush after bending down for a long period of time and as I sit up and nearly pass out I tell myself "keep pushing on ... you can stay in the game ... no time for weakness now". Because once you sit and take a breath it is real hard to get back in it again.

Rachel said...
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All of our chairs (no benches in our yard yet) are lonely until early evening. Then we might sit down if it's not too windy. Otherwise we never sit down when we're outside unless we have company over.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...
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I love that teak bench! I have a bench in our backyard that is never sat on, it's now in the middle of a flower bed with a fern growing in a pot on it. I have a hard time sitting down outside and just relaxing, I always spot something to do while I'm out there.

Sheila said...
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My benches rarely ever see butts, however it is nice to know they are there if I need them!

Kara said...
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I love garden benches. But there's really no need for a bench here. Way too many biting flies around in summer. Any admiring of the garden has to be done indoors, otherwise you get swarmed within 2 minutes of going outside.

Rebecca @ In The Garden said...
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Great post! I like the reference to being lion like & preferring tall grasses. Lovely bench, I need to add a bench or 2 but haven't found one that I like enough yet, so for now I move chairs around here and there, mostly with the shade. Nice view from atop of the slide, we also have colourful playground equipment in our yard, and it makes for an interesting design element. ;)

Kimberly said...
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LOL!! I can't stop chuckling to myself as I read this post. I won't allow myself to stop either, for fear of stopping for the rest of the day. Additionally, my young ones think it's time for something else if I stop. The only time I actually rest and resume work is in the heat of the Florida summer. I work in my bathing suit until I get too hot to work...then I jump in the pool to cool off. After about 5 minutes or so, I resume work. However, I never grab a raft until my work is done...same concept as the bench! Back to your post...I really love your benches and your concept of nestling them up against tall shrubs and/or grasses. It's quite pretty!

Christine B. said...
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@Dirt Digger
I think I get the gardener's head rush, too, but I can't's been so long since I was able to get out there and get anything done.

We've had some super windy days lately, so it's pretty useless to style one's hair: it'll be a haystack if you're outside for more than two seconds. On the upside, at least the wind is melting the snow.

Ah, biting fly season...comes right on the heels of our first wave of mosquitoes. Those lavender concoctions just don't work against the flies (at least for me) and so I have had to resort to DEET (yes, I know, boo, hiss).

There was almost a full fledged war over that yellow slide. Guess which side I was on (hint: not the yellow side)? There was at that time no other slide color to be had for love or money here...we even considered shipping one up for an exhorbitant price. Shoulda, coulda!

I can't even imagine what my neighbors would say (as 6 or 7 of them have a direct view into my yard) if I started gardening in my bathing suit. They'd probably commit me.


Laurrie said...
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It takes discipline to sit in the garden. Really, to just sit and do nothing but relax and enjoy. As you describe so well, it just doesn't happen!

James A-S said...
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Benches hardly ever get at upon by gardeners. They might occasionally support a relation who likes to issue instructions to the aforementioned gardener while they are upended in a border.
The most important thing about any sort of garden furniture is that it needs to be pretty because you are surely going to spend much more time looking at it than sitting on it.
Mind you, in Alaska, I suppose that for a lot of the time they are covered by either snow or blue tarpaulins so you might have to slightly adjust the rules.

Chandramouli S said...
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You all are lucky to have a space for bench in the garden. Mine cannot be called a garden but just a space for my green babies! I love the bench backing the shrubs. Lovely!

Kate said...
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That's a gorgeous bench but now I'm thinking I need to put a slide against my upper deck - who needs stairs when I can slide down to my garden!? :)

gloria said...
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I have benches here and there to give the illusion that I relax in the garden-:)

donna said...
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Just look at all the lovely colors and the lovely children in that first photo. So pretty.

We have a bench up against the house in the back, no idea why it's placed there. Nobody EVER sits on it and every year I say that I'm going to put colorful pots of flowers on it. Do I ever get around to doing it? NO. This may be the year.

Had teak bedroom furniture at one time. We sold it with the house. Wasn't that stupid? Would luv to have it now.

Your bench is gorgeous.


Jim Groble said...
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Wow. I have a blue tarp also. I guess it is part of the code. jim

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...
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Such lovely bright photos! As for the benches, I love them! I love to sit on them, watch the garden and think what else and where I can plant. But even more, I love to lie on the benches and take a nap! Yes, outside, in the middle of the day, in the garden.

pamsenglishgarden said...
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I have been known to sit on the garden swing in the shade garden and sip a cup of tea. I think if I had a beautiful teak bench like yours, though, I would have to try it out. Cute children ... love the pink wellies!

Gail said...
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After years of never being able to sit without jumping up to weed...I finally have a bench or two that I enjoy sitting in to contemplate the garden. It's also perfectly placed to watch the sun set behind the trees. It helps that I am an empty-nester and have no cutie pies in pink shoes to distract me! gail

Cheryl said...
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The older I get, the easier it is to sit down and take a breather, but then harder to get up and going again! Take a break, life is too short!

jeansgarden said...
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Christine, You can tell I was never much of an athlete; I love being benched (or, more accurately, chaise longued) in the garden! -Jean

Joseph said...
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:) I can relate to this. I've been doing so much work in the yard lately that I forget to sit down and take it in and really enjoy it. Even if I do sit down for a minute, my eye is immediately distracted by grass growing where it shouldn't be, weeds that need pulling, etc.

It is good, though, to take a breather and enjoy the beauty around you. You deserve it every once in awhile!

LeSan said...
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Shoot, I built the garden for the bench. Love the blue tarp. I remember that post still makes me laugh.

Christine B. said...
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Building a garden around a bench isn't a bad idea: you know it'll be properly nestled then. The blue tarp thing keeps resurfacing to "haunt" me. I was looking for bench pictures for this post and only had a couple...of course a tarp would be in one;)


Kathleen said...
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I think I need a bench ~ I like Tatyana's idea of lying down on one!! If I could ever bring myself to do it, that is. I'm very much like everyone else ~ I like to position seating around but seldom make use of it. The sports analogy was clever!

noel said...
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funny i love benches also but don't always find the time to use them unless i'm not gardening and juts reading a book/magazine on the patio...i love your teak benches though..wanna trade?

Kelly@LifeOutOfDoors said...
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I keep thinking that I'll be finished one day and will sit down and enjoy the darn garden. I used to be happy to sit with a book and breath it all in. What happened? Maybe when there's not one more bare spot....

Great post! Thanks.

Nan Ondra said...
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Your bench and seats were definitely worth waiting for, Christine. Even if you don't get much time to sit on the bench, it's a beautiful addition to your garden. I'm so glad you decided to share its story with us for the GGW Design Workshop this month!

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