I've had an epiphany of sorts and it is this: I need to design a garden that can withstand winter temperatures in the single digits, summer temperatures in the 100+ range, and an annual rainfall of 5 inches. Oh, and in the back garden, this all takes place in the shade of five pecan trees.
No problem. That sounds to me like a high New Mexico/Arizona desert. I know deserts; I grew up in one. I can do this.
For inspiration I'm looking to other deserts, some of which have had beautiful gardens for centuries. In particular, I've been busy studying Mexican, Moroccan, and Andalusian gardens, which always have at their center an homage to water--not surprising to me, since those of us who live in deserts consider water a holy thing.
So I started with water. Here is the homage that I installed this weekend:
There is other homag-y stuff going on here. For example, I used a turquoise pot as a nod to my New Mexico roots, but blue ceramic--as seen all over the desert southwest--can also be found in those other desert gardens. The corrugated sheet metal and the rusty star, of course, are pure Texan (stars are to Texas gardens as pineapples are to gardens in the coastal northeast).
But more importantly, homage-wise, I once spent countless hours of my life wandering up and down desert arroyos, where I occasionally found the vestigial, partial remnants of earlier homesteads. Often they were just bits and pieces of a structure--so much so that it was sometimes hard to determine the original purpose of an item, and it filled me with a delicious sense of mystery about the people who had lived there. I wanted this structure to evoke the same sense of the unexpected, "stumble-upon-a-mystery," as if it had been something a woman homesteader might have built in order to remember water in a dry time--cobbled up out of scraps, but also perhaps with something precious that had been brought from another land and another life left behind.
Of course, she might need a re-circulating pump. And electricity.