Monday, February 22, 2021

Imaginary frogs in real gardens?

One of my favorite frog sculptures at Ed and Betty Ann Spar's garden

I have a few regrets: one is that I never took enough pictures in my mentor's garden in Boulder. T. Paul Maslin passed away in 1984 and for fifteen years before that was my closest friend and garden guru. He was also a herpetologist by training, and though much of his work was based on lizards and snakes, he had a great fondness for amphibians--especially frogs. And he had many sculptures of them in his garden: none of which I ever photographed. Worse still was that I never asked Mary (his wife) for one as a memento before she passed away decades later. Perhaps that's why I've noticed frog sculptures in so many gardens I visit--and I began to photograph them thinking there may be an opportunity to share. I think that time has come...although I've lost track of where I photographed some of them!

This frog poised in a niche at Sam Hitt's garden in Santa Fe,(which I've blogged about before)

I hit Frog-paydirt this weekend visiting Ed and Betty Ann Spar's wonderful garden in Tucson: turns out Ed is a bit of a Frog sculpture fancier: they're garden was FULL of them--here are just some of the best (they became favorite birthday and Christmas presents from his kids)

Many of Ed's frogs seem especially mellow and relaxed...

I like this sleek one.

I think these could double as vases for flowers...

Slightly more stylized

More potential vases here...

A photograph taken by Jeff Wagner, a friend of mine of Kim Kori's sculpture "The Kiss" which is at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts--a pretty elaborate sculpture in this genre!

A frog featured in a friend's garden in Pueblo, Colorado

Another Pueblo amphibian: I suspect warm places like Pueblo and Tucson like the idea of these moisture loving creatures!

Marianne Moore declares that poetry is "imaginary gardens with real toads in them" (see poem at the end). Here is a frog I photographed in northernmost Yunnan, at over `12.000': this part of China is truly a real natural garden if there ever was one! Proving her right once again.

At Stonecrop garden in Cold Spring, NY,  Jan found this life sized frog and tested the fairy tale...

Presto! This may explain my affinity for frogs!

 Do take a moment to savor Moore's lovely poem which reveals something about poetry, and a little about frogs and gardens to boot!


Marianne Moore - 1887-1972

I too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
      all this fiddle.
   Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
      discovers that there is in
   it after all, a place for the genuine.
      Hands that can grasp, eyes
      that can dilate, hair that can rise
         if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
      they are
   useful; when they become so derivative as to become
      unintelligible, the
   same thing may be said for all of us—that we
      do not admire what
      we cannot understand. The bat,
         holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless
      wolf under
   a tree, the immovable critic twinkling his skin like a horse
      that feels a flea, the base-
   ball fan, the statistician—case after case
      could be cited did
      one wish it; nor is it valid
         to discriminate against “business documents and

school-books”; all these phenomena are important. One must
      make a distinction
   however: when dragged into prominence by half poets,
      the result is not poetry,
   nor till the autocrats among us can be
     “literalists of
      the imagination”—above
         insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them,
      shall we have
   it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand, in defiance of their opinion—
   the raw material of poetry in
      all its rawness, and
      that which is on the other hand,
         genuine, then you are interested in poetry.




  1. Wonderful collection of frog art. I'm a fan.

  2. I do love the first photo of the two on the bench and the last one of the two of you.


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