Color Returns to Cheekwood: Patrick Dougherty’s Sitckwork

We were supposed to have rain this weekend, but thanks to the inaccuracy of the meteorologists in our area, it was sunny.  I headed to Cheekwood on Sunday for my first visit of the season.  Upon pulling up to the gate, I heard a shriek that sounded like a cross between a bird of prey, a mountain lion, and a human scream.  Apparently, they have a recording set up to deter deer from entering the gardens.

I like to go early each year, before the maddening spring crowds descend.  It’s absolutely tranquil.  Some of the flowers have begun to bloom, mostly violas, daffodils, and hellebores.  The feeling in the air is one of happy expectation with bright purples and yellows dotting the scene.

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The tulips are waiting for warmer days before being coaxed into color.  They were surrounded by an electric fence which I assume is another deer deterrent.  This year the garden boasts 100,000 tulips of different varieties.  I cannot wait to come and see what the place looks like when they’re blooming.  They are everywhere!


Upon rounding the bend that overlooks the ponds, one can see the newest outdoor exhibit that has been advertised lately, Little Bitty Pretty One by Patrick Dougherty.  One can’t help but feel like they’ve just stepped onto a page in a storybook when they see this incredible structure composed solely of intertwined sticks.  There is a bit of whimsy created by the natural bends and curves of the branches used to construct Dougherty’s sculptures.  I was fascinated.  When you step inside, you can still feel breeze and light in a way that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “tree house.”  Looking up, the sky is visible, and upon examination of the sticks, it’s incredible the level of detail woven into the structure.  I’m so glad I was able to enjoy it by myself for a moment, completely lost in my imagination of hobbits and Harry Potter and Narnian creatures, all of whom would have been quite at home in such a place.  I wish these structures were all over the garden.  I was disappointed that there was only one, but I’d love to see more of these in other places!

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Last year was a special year for Cheekwood with Bruce Munro’s Light exhibit.  Most of my visits to the garden happened at night.  The last time I saw this pool, there were orb’s of fiber optic light called Fagin’s Urchins floating on the surface.


The fountains bubbled happily again, echoing the sentiment that spring is finally here and we can look forward to color and life and moments out in the fresh air.


The tulips should start to put on a lovely show in the next couple of weeks.  There is the nasty rumor we might get snow one night this week, but let’s hope that’s all it is.  I mean, do these flowers look like they want more snow?


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