Another Garden Design Element Discovered: Horttery

Mystery! Intrigue! What is down there?

Down there is yet another garden design element that I want to find in my garden.

This particular grate at the Dallas Arboretum most likely functions as a place for water to run off the path into an underground network of pipes that take the water off to a nearby lake.

A good solid explanation - functional, rational, simple enough.

Or perhaps it is where garden fairies go to hide on hot summer days when the arboretum is full of visitors. What comes up through that grate as the last light of day fades into night? Is it a portal to another world, a world that exists in every garden but is not often spoken of?

Whatever purpose it serves, it adds a bit of mystery to the garden, a bit of horttery, if you will allow the use of another word not found in any dictionaries, at least for now.

This well in a private Dallas garden also has a bit of horttery to it.

When I saw it, I had to walk up to it to find out who deep it was. I couldn't resist. Hello, helloooo, helloooo down there.

I won’t reveal its secrets or how deep it was!

Deep inside this Dallas garden designed by Rosa Finsely, the garden fairies have quite brazenly built themselves a castle.
What does it look like inside that dwelling? Had I not been in this garden with one hundred or so other gardeners touring it during the Garden Writers Association Symposium in Dallas, Texas, I might have knelt down and peered inside the windows to see inside. But I didn’t, so it will remain yet another horttery, never to be solved.

In fact, a good horttery shouldn’t be solved. It is much more enjoyable to develop theories about it, changing the explanation depending on who is in the garden, what the season is or what other events have occurred that might, or might not provide important clues.

But I'll make no mystery of this... mystery in a garden – horttery, is another design element I want to include in my garden.


  1. I agree wholeheartedly. All gardens need that element of the horterious (hortyrious? horteryous?... well, you know. What's around that corner?

  2. A new word for me.....sounds intreging. Glad you had a nice trip.

  3. Oh, that castle is something! I agree, mystery, or whatever word you want to use to denote the unknown, horttery is good, makes gardens fun to explore. Glad you got some ideas in big D!

  4. I love that well - especially if it has water in it. Maybe the fairies in the castle could set up a mysterious pumping system.

  5. Horttery! Absolutely one of my favorite of your words! Love the castle~I have a perfect spot for it. gail

  6. Great, great post. I love mystery and discovery in the garden. It adds to the journey. What you found was appropriate for the locations sited and your descriptions were intriguing. I want a castle like that. I am going to try and build one. Will be a great project over the winter, even if I fail. Good learning experience. Wonder what the turret roof is? Maybe Hypertufa forms.

  7. That's a good one! I definitely don't have enough horttery in my garden. Do you remember the great horttery in that garden on Pearl St. in Buffalo, the teal door?

  8. Small elements such as that grate remind us that the functional can also be ornamental and even beautiful. :)

  9. beautiful things! I especially like that well.

  10. The grate and the well are great! The castle... meh. Seen too many of those round here. Too often infested with garden gnomes.

    But thanks for reminding me that I must try to track down the maker of the dragon fountain I'm still drooling over a year after seeing it. I may not have the garden for it, but it won't hurt to know.

  11. un superbe jardin bien agrémenté..

  12. A garden - as well as a house, really - should always have SOMETHING that makes you stop and think twice.

    Be it horttery or a plant that stands out and makes you ask "why? Where from? How?"... A world without mystery and wonder would be a dull place indeed.

  13. Great word! I would like to use it in a sentence, but first I need to learn how to spell it. I love this post. I have one of those garden mysteries. For the last couple of years I have a hole in the front garden. I think something lives in there, but I am too chicken to check it out. And it doesn't seem to eat plants, so that really scares me. Any ideas, I know I will do a post on it for help!


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