Tammy SchmittThe Kiss: Gardening with Gustav

Have you ever seen a piece of art and imagined it as a garden? I am not a horticulturalist, garden designer or landscape architect. My only design experience comes from moving seventeen times in thirty four years and always having to cram my stuff into a new house and find a way to make it look appealing. But I am an art lover.

My garden curves around an elliptical lawn

My garden curves around an elliptical lawn

I recently returned from a trip to Vienna, Austria and Budapest, Hungary where I was able to finally see in person the art that inspires my garden. When my husband was given an offer to stay in the apartment of work colleague in Vienna, we cashed in some frequent flyer miles, packed our bags and headed for Austria. Exhausted from a long flight but determined to stay awake to adjust to a different time zone, we dropped our bags off and hopped the tram to the Belvedere.

Most of the trams were sleek and modern, but we ended up on an older one a few times. They were old fashioned and quaint but still in excellent condition.

Most of the trams were sleek and modern, but we ended up on an older one a few times. They were old fashioned and quaint but still in excellent condition.

Vienna is a very clean, orderly city with clocks everywhere. I don't think they run on Tammytime. Even the plants were expected to conform and behave

Vienna is a very clean, orderly city with clocks everywhere. I don’t think they run on Tammytime. Even the plants were expected to conform and behave

The Belvedere Gallery is home to Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting, The Kiss and was in the midst of an extended Klimt exhibit. Seeing amazing art can be a physical, visceral experience. A huge square painting, I love the richness of the decorative abstraction, the sunniness of the gold leaf, and the focus on the couple. Although art critics have implied that The Kiss is a prelude to a more passionate ending, I don’t see it that way at all. To me, it is simply a tender, blissful moment between two people in love, which is more powerful and enduring than anything accomplished while naked.

Der Kuss by Gustav Klimt

Der Kuss by Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt was a rebellious painter, determined to do everything his way. The woman in the painting is rumored to be his best friend and lover, Emilie Floge, a wise woman who refused to marry him but endured his tendency to bed his models, fathering over 14 children.

I thought the windows peeking out from the roof on this house in Budapest looked like eyes.

I thought the windows peeking out from the roof on this house in Budapest looked like eyes.

While this may look like a set from a Disney movie, it's known as the Fisherman's Bastion and offers incredible views of Budapest

While this may look like a set from a Disney movie, it’s known as the Fisherman’s Bastion and offers incredible views of Budapest

Like the embrace in the painting, my garden is a hug, the edges pulling inward to envelop those in the center. It is a soft place, calm and cheerful. I have been told it isn’t edgy enough, spiky enough, or tropical enough. But my garden is exactly enough of what I need. My garden is my art, a steady embrace that pulls me in and keeps me centered. It is the novel I will never write and the plants quirkier than any character I could imagine. It is the painting and sculpture I have no ability to create. It is my own kiss.

I thought the Japanese beetles would devour my roses while I was gone, but a few Abraham Darby roses bloomed unnoticed and I found this beauty in the garden waiting for me

I thought the Japanese beetles would devour my roses while I was gone, but a few Abraham Darby roses bloomed unnoticed and I found this beauty in the garden waiting for me

Like this post? Why not share it with a friend?


Tammy Schmitt

About Tammy Schmitt

I am a passionate middle school teacher and gardener. I've gardened in South Dakota, South Carolina, and in upstate New York near the Canadian border. My current garden, in an overdeveloped suburb near Washington DC, has been my most challenging. My desire to create a true refuge for our native birds and butterflies has helped me battle unpredictable weather and compacted clay soil. My garden isn't perfect, but it's always a beautiful escape. Read my full blog at Casa Mariposa.

3 thoughts on “The Kiss: Gardening with Gustav

  1. Barbara on said:

    So beautifully written, very poetic like I am sure is your garden.

  2. helen mckerral on said:

    Tammy, an evocative post. Have you seen the movie “Woman in Gold”? I think you would enjoy it!

  3. Tammy, thank you for your beautiful explanation of how your garden might not be “perfect” by the book, but it is just “exactly enough.” Many of us will finally create wonderful gardens, by not all us will know when they are just right even while breaking rules.

Feel free to comment (no need to register)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *