Is there a gaz­ing globe in your gar­den’s fu­ture?

The Progress-Index - At Home - - NEWS - By Lee Re­ich

Did I see a glint of mock­ing laugh­ter in a friend’s eyes when I men­tioned the new ad­di­tion to my gar­den, a gaz­ing globe?

Th­ese mir­rored glass or­na­ments were popular un­til about 50 years ago, when they fell from their pedestals, fig­u­ra­tively speak­ing. They’re now mak­ing a come­back, strad­dling the fence be­tween at­trac­tive or­na­ment and — to some peo­ple — kitsch.

Gaz­ing globes date back to 13th cen­tury Italy, a coun­try known for gar­den or­na­ments, and, more specif­i­cally, to Venice, a city known for glass­works.

They once were more than mere or­na­ments. They also were put in place to bring hap­pi­ness, ward off evil spir­its or at­tack­ers, and at­tract fairies. In Vic­to­rian times, a globe near a gate al­lowed you to look around the cor­ner to see who or what was ap­proach­ing from the other side of the fence or hedge.

The globes also found their way in­doors. A but­ler could look around a cor­ner to check if any­one was pock­et­ing cut­lery. A fa­ther could main­tain a watchful eye on his daugh­ter and her beau.

Look at a gaz­ing globe and you’ll have a fish-eye view of ev­ery­thing ex­cept what’s di­rectly be­hind the globe. As you move, the re­flec­tion also moves, ex­cept that you, the viewer, are al­ways star­ing di­rectly back at your­self. You are al­ways the cen­ter of this per­cep­tual uni­verse — a metaphor, per­haps, for ex­is­tence.

In my gar­den, how­ever, the globe isn’t a pro­tec­tor or metaphor; it’s re­ally just an or­na­ment. It’s a shiny ob­ject off which dances light. In sum­mer, it peeked out from among low shrubs and flow­ers. Over the past few months, the globe has in­creas­ingly come into fo­cus, like a de­vel­op­ing pho­to­graphic im­age. It stands out most boldly in the gar­den on those win­ter days when it’s perched above and sur­rounded by bil­low­ing, white snow.

To­day’s gaz­ing globes have evolved from those orbs of past decades that of­ten stood alone on pedestals in the cen­ter of lawns. In var­i­ous sizes and tints, to­day’s globes nes­tle into flower beds, hang from branches or float in ponds. Rather than hav­ing a smooth, mir­rored sur­face, to­day’s gaz­ing globe might be a mo­saic of sil­vered and col­ored glass.

Some gar­den­ers make their own by glu­ing shards of mir­rors or tile onto old bowl­ing balls. To avoid the fragility of tra­di­tional gaz­ing globes, some are now made from shiny, stain­less steel.

I re­mem­ber gaz­ing globes from my youth, and nostal­gia fig­ures into my lik­ing for them. I also re­mem­ber be­ing a lit­tle ner­vous around them, and I still like the glass ones for their fragility. They’re not that frag­ile, though; more than once, strong winds have knocked my globe off its pedestal and each time the globe, thank­fully, made a soft enough land­ing to re­main in­tact.

Most of all, I like gaz­ing globes be­cause they are fun, whether truly or mock­ingly so.


In this un­dated photo, a green-tinted gaz­ing globe vis­ually takes in all of last sum­mer’s gar­den in New Paltz, New York. Th­ese mir­rored glass or­na­ments fell out of fa­vor about 50 years ago but are mak­ing a come­back, seen by some as at­trac­tive or­na­ments and by oth­ers as kitsch.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.