Urns and ferns

In his poetic meditation on mortality, spurred by funerary urns, Thomas Browne, in Hydriotaphia or Urne Buriall (1658) wrote:

“Time, which antiquated antiquities, and hath an art to make dust of all things, hath yet spared these minor monuments.”

The stone urns at Dawyck are much valued for their intrinsic qualities and not as ossuaries. Some have been lovingly restored; one is planted up. All have intricately carved foliage: here a fern, there a vine and a swag.

For me they represent the point where the art of classicism meets the art of the garden; something that many gardeners strive for, and which is present at the core of Dawyck’s landscape.

That this display of extreme aesthetic sensibility is also one of status and wealth, of conspicuous “good taste” should not deter us from our own contemplations on garden form and function.

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