On Fake Ruins and Pineapples: Garden Follies

As a lover of all things weird and wondrous, I’m a big fan of garden follies, and I try to put as many as I possibly can into my novels.

Follies were, and still are, an important element in the landscape gardens that became so popular in the early 1700s. These gardens were fashioned to imitate nature, and follies were used as vocal points: they were supposed to steer the gaze of the people ambling about the gardens and to present the finishing touch to a pretty vista. They could serve more practical purposes, too, and, indeed, many of them were used as tea houses or bathing houses.

Many follies were built in the neo-classical style, with clean, symmetrical lines (as far as follies go, they are of the plain variety). But if you were rich (well, let’s face it, if you could afford a landscape garden with a few follies thrown in, you inevitably were rich) and had eccentric tastes, you would want some more … uhm … colourful stuff in your garden.

Crazy about Egypt? Put a mini pyramid in your garden.

Love all things China? A Chinese pagoda is the way to go.

Do you like nothing more than pineapples? Well then, there’s no need to just grow them in your hothouse. Put stone pineapples onto your garden follies!

Are you fascinated by the Middle Ages and chivalry and tales about King Arthur and the Tableround? In that case, I would suggest a gothic temple (or two) and some fake ruins. You can never go wrong with fake ruins!

The sketch at the top of this post shows the fake ruins in the park of Rousham House (sorry for the crappy quality of the picture; for some reason, Blogger doesn’t want to upload a cleaner version – duh). I love those ruins; they are one of my favourite follies. So of course, I just had to use them in The Lily Brand, given that it was my first published novel and all that. (If you’d like to find out more about fake ruins and the appeal of the gothic, come over to Bookish, where I’ll be doing a guest post next week as part of their SPOOK-tastic Bookish Halloween.)

There are no garden follies in Castle of the Wolf, alas. But hey, they live in a halfway ruined castle on top of a hill – where would I have put a garden folly in that scenario??? Bewitched, however, more than makes up for the lack of follies in Castle: the hero’s family has this lovely big country estate, whose park simply begged to be filled with exotic architecture. A small pavilion in the garden of Veitshöchheim in Bavaria provided the inspiration for the following:

Fox drew her along the path. “Come on, there must be a bench somewhere around here.”

Still laughing, Amy complied. “If you think I’ll let you talk me into shedding my boot and stocking, you belong in Bedlam!”

“Hush. This is serious. Oh, look here! There’s the small pavilion. Even better than a mere bench.”

“There are pineapples on top of it.”

“Stone pineapples.” He urged her to sit down onto one of the benches in the pavilion.

“Why are there pineapples on top of it?” It struck her as absurd.

He shrugged. “Because grandfather liked pineapples?” he suggested. “I really don’t know. Now show me your foot.”

She laughed. “You’re mad.”

He went down on one knee in front of her, which brought their faces nearly on one level. With an impatient gesture, he whipped his hat off his head and put it on the other bench. A few strands of coppery hair tumbled into his face.

Oh my, she thought. He looks delicious. Her stomach lurched. This time, her laugh sounded more like a squeak.  “You are mad.”

Putting his hands on the bench on each side of her, he leaned forward until they were nearly nose to nose. “Mad with love,” he whispered.

This time, her stomach didn’t lurch, it somersaulted. Oh my. Ohmyohmyohmy.

By the way, did you know that Bewitched is available for only $ 0.99 right now? Grab your copy here. (For some strange reason, the German price is much higher. So far I haven’t been able to figure out why; I might need to contact the KDP support team about that.)