As faithful readers of The Crier and this column may remember, a few weeks ago I was bemoaning the loss of a rather unique piece of yard art that would have served as a grand focal point in the Coghill Botanical Gardens. A couple of college friends had just moved to a house in the Virginia-Highlands neighborhood which sported an oversized elk head with massive antlers on the very front gable of their home. I had already broken the Tenth Commandment and parts of the Fourth over this item (go ahead, look them up just like I had to do). I was hoping they would not want to keep it after they moved in. Alas, they decided to keep it.

For some time I have been considering the addition of some folksy yard art to serve as a focal point in the Gardens. The elk head with antlers would have been perfect. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, these friends had arranged for the purchase and delivery of a life-size, brilliant white, resin moose head. It arrived the other day and is magnificent. It is now firmly mounted on a towering pine tree in The Coghill Botanical Gardens. I love it…whimsical, unique, weather-proof and a real eye-catcher of a garden focal point. My friends, Ross and Chris, are great people.

As you read this column I will be teaching a couple of courses for the PALS learning program on garden design. One topic will discuss the use of focal points in the garden. My new focal point will be repeatedly shown in my PowerPoint slide presentation.

Focal points in a garden serve multiple purposes. They can be drop-dead impressive pieces of artistic construction or great statuary that just stuns the viewer and enhances the elegance of the garden. They can also serve to provide structure or draw the eye into what otherwise might be just an amorphous mass of greenery. They can humanize a garden a bit by providing a clue about the personal tastes (or lack thereof) of the gardener. And last, but certainly not least, they can serve to draw the viewer’s eye away from some unavoidable eyesore that you are stuck with, such as your idiot neighbor’s rusting RV abandoned on the back of his lot next to your garden.

But enough about my yard art.

I have been studying drip watering systems to install at some of the gardens at the Dunwoody Nature Center. Former Dunwoody City Councilman Robert Wittenstein was good enough to give me a tour of Temple Emanuel’s Garden Isaiah. This is a 16-bed vegetable garden at the Temple that donates all of its produce to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. It is a great garden and very productive.

A couple of years ago they installed a drip water system to conserve water usage. What is a bit unique is that the drip lines get their water from what used to be traditional lawn sprinkler heads. The water lines connect to the old watering system and do a much more precise job of keeping their beautiful veggies growing through the hot summers. They also get some of their water from the condensation water of the Temple’s large air conditioning system. What a great way to double the usefulness of increasingly scarce (and expensive) water resources.

So that’s about it for now…news about a moose head and a very clever watering system here in Dunwoody. Is this a great community or what?!

Jeff Coghill has been gardening in DeKalb County for over 30 years and has probably killed at least one of each kind of plant he has tried before getting another one to thrive. He is a gardening volunteer at the Dunwoody Nature Center and works closely with members of the DeKalb Master Gardeners group. He can be reached at gardeningmatters@hotmail.com.

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