Friday, February 17, 2012

History Of A Druid

I'm off today so don't have much to report regarding happenings at RBG. I'm sure Dr. Gredler was in to paint more obelisks and perhaps other volunteers appeared as well. This blog posting is dedicated to our druid sculpture in the reception garden. She's hard to see in the image above but is positioned under that arch and was originally placed in this central location to be "on axis"with the mid-point of the archway leading in to the sunken garden. I'll blog about the history of the archway tomorrow. However, the druid is positioned on a visual line that bisects the reception garden (west to east), the sunken archway and is in line with the Parker sculpture at the far end of the sunken garden. To the right you can see her adoringly holding a small evergreen (with some snow).

The druid has a 110+ year history based on what I have been told. She used to be located on top of the original House of Mercy (nunnery) in Janesville, WI which is the precursor to the Mercy Health System which has expanded throughout Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. This statue is on permanent loan from the Rock County Historical Society and is a wonderful feature and focal point in the reception garden.

The two pictures below show what she looked like before being cleaned up and installed in the gardens in 1992. I think Dr. Yahr stumbled on her being "stored" in this field and saw her true potential. She has been the unfortunate recipient of vandalism over the years but is still looking good after being refurbished multiple times. We have many pieces of "Janesville history" throughout the gardens and I like to think that this druid, a protector of nature, keeps an eye on things around the gardens (as do our security cameras too....). Pan further below and see some of her history.Below are some of the images of the druid being unloaded and subsequently placed in her final location in the reception garden.

In the picture above, you can see the druid to the right of the image. The retaining walls had been installed and the center planter but no plants had been placed as of yet and the remainder of the asphalt paving was yet to be put down. The photo below shows an interesting point in the history of the reception garden. That archway structure was put in place opposite the Parker Pen archway and was meant for the statue to be placed directly underneath. I'll need to ask Dr. Yahr why that never came to fruition as that structure was dismantled and a simple steel arch was placed over the druid for vines. Look closely at the structure below though...The uprights are currently used to support the duck sculpture that leads in to the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's garden and the arch itself, being three pieces, was used as part of the low walls defining the Hosta Hollow Garden. This recycling was appropriate and Dr. Yahr had the vision for not only the original use but the re-use as well. In 2006, we had horrible vandalism in the gardens which resulted in $20,000+ in damage. Three teenagers, later caught and prosecuted, went on a vandalism binge that included breaking windows, benches, planters, a small bridge, a $5,000 limestone bowl planter, etc. They also knocked over the druid as seen below. A couple years later, some moron smashed a brick or other hard object on her in a couple locations. The second photo down shows the druid being put back in to place in 2006. Ironically, this vandalism was done three days before we hosted the annual meeting of the Midwest Regional Garden Writers Association and we spent some long days cleaning up before that visit. It took years to replace many of the damaged objects although the druid fared better than some other items. The vandalism did result in $42,000 in donations from the community which were used for increased security (cameras) around the gardens. What a sad commentary....Directly below is Ron Sutterlin of Sutterlin Restorations (Janesville, WI) who has generously donated his time twice to refurbish the druid. As much as we appreciate his help and talents, I hope we don't ever need his services for the druid again! We hope this druid will outlive many more generations of visitors, volunteers and supporters of the gardens and she is a true testament to the resilience and beauty of RBG!

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