Friday, 13 January 2012

What's the obsession with scarecrows???

I've galloped around the world for the last three years looking at gardens! And to be perfectly frank, I knew nothing about them when I first started. Lack of experience meant that I simply didn't know the difference between a good and a bad garden; certainly couldn't understand the basic principles of planting and what makes a border work; and as for naming a plant ... you might just as well have asked me to give the Latin names for butterflies!! 
Wet-suited scarecrow at Knightshayes, Devon
But that's about to change, thanks to Anne Wareham of ThinkinGardens and other gardening gurus, who have made me realise that it's not helpful writing exclusively about good gardens. The time has come to write about the bad ones too so that visitors don't waste their time looking at pathetic planting or bad design. Worse too are the gardens that trade on their history! 

I've certainly seen bad gardens in my time, but have always chosen to ignore them. So my New Year's resolution is to get real and start saying what I think!  And, for my first rant of 2012 I'm picking on the National Trust's apparent obsession with scarecrows. 
Scarecrows at Standen, West Sussex
I've seen them all over the country in the last 12 months and am wondering why so many of their properties feature these creatures - I very much doubt they scare off the birds and, if they are designed to improve the way the garden looks, I hope my readers will let me know what they think.
Aquaman scarecrow at Trengwainton, Cornwall
What has become clear in my travels this last year is that kitchen and walled gardens are all the rage. But I suspect that in days gone by when those gardens were fine examples of "you are what you can grow", the scarecrows were intended to scare the birds, rather than acting as decorative garden objects.
War-ravaged scarecrow at Hughenden Manor, Bucks
So onwards and upwards for 2012 - the year when I'm going to tell the truth about what I see, with the help of my viewfinder! 


  1. Creepy things. I don't know if they scare birds but I do know there was one in the vegetable garden at one of the places I interned and it used to scare the bejebus out of me when I would see it out of the corner of my eye. I hated that thing.

  2. I like that garden in Standen...seems to be so critter-proof.

  3. Glad you are saying what you think. Too much blandness can be boring.

    I think my taste must be very down-market because I like scarecrows. Even thought you might be recommending them in their variety when the first picture came up. Even thought you might suggest they give height to beds in winter. I'm not sure they work. Have never seen them in a vegetable garden, only in fields. What fun! What fun to disagree! I haven't been here for a while (I'd put your link on the wrong list) so maybe your current header has been there for ages - but it's the first time I've seen it. Fantastic.

  4. Haha, I think those are pretty scary looking scarecrows! There are cuter ones out there that would look much better in the garden, I'm sure.

  5. I laughed out loud several times reading/seeing this post! It will be fun to witness your take on bad gardens. I see your point about the scarecrows, although they are rather cute. While the aquaman is tacky, he sure had me chuckling!

  6. The specimens you have shown do not seem to enhance their respective gardens to my eyes but that is just one perspective. They could however really ignite a child's imagination and possibly inspire a lifelong interest in garden visiting :)

  7. Crickey! I wouldn't want to run into any of those in the middle of the night. Actually, in broad daylight either. Rather frightening looking things, and yes I understand it's all in the name, but still.... !!!!!

  8. The scarecrows are appalling - I can't believe that the National Trust are putting even one think like that in their gardens let alone lots! Wouldn't be quite so bad if they were proper traditional scarecrows! These are just ugly and add nothing whatever to the scene.