Scarab a la Colin McGowan’m glad we have just been given an original ‘Colin McGowan’ Scarab Beetle in terracotta and not some live chained jewellery version to crawl around my jacket hunting for ‘cotton-eaters’.

I don’t know if they still chain live scarab beetles somewhere in the world but I can remember thinking that it was very strange to have a pet scarab beetle studded with precious gems crawling over an ‘owners’ shoulder. If unadorned scarab beetles had been free to move anywhere and just stayed around because they liked the view, I would have been delighted to provide one with a high vantage point. When I was eleven, I had a few pet stick insects who may have made good tie bars but thankfully my mind didn’t work like that, so they were safe.

People do strange things with themselves let alone their pets. I can remember once meeting a small monkey who was working with a street photographer. Both were surrounded, daily, by adoring fans: I think that stopped because some photographers were cruel to their pet monkey friends or maybe they started biting the customers – sending the photographers insurance premiums sky high. I have always thought more caring links should be forged between people and other lifeforms. Regulating these links is fine but banning them altogether because of the actions of a few uncaring ‘owners’ is unprogressive. Most pet owners learn great respect for their pets, especially if they are venomous, have very big teeth or breath fire.

This terracotta Scarab Beetle needs a special location in the HoBB Gardens so we are now on the look out for someone who has a terracotta or stone carved ‘shoulder’. Contact us if you know of one, or of a spare pair, with or without head attached, then we can kick-start our sculpt garden …… something tells you that we are designing the HoBB Gardens in an eclectic manner hey! Hmmmmmm.

Or, maybe we relate more to the scarab’s illustrious history, the sacred nature of its place within Ancient culture, and the respect it carried for rather different reasons! Either way, a special place within the HoBB Gardens will become its home in modern times.

There is much that has been written about the Scarabaeidae Family of Beetles. The ‘one’ Colin has ‘chosen’ is large – very large – the dung beetle, Scarabaeus sacer, of Mediterranean regions – AKA ‘the sacred scarab of Egypt’. The scarab is, co-incidentally, the name for representations of the beetle made of stone (both precious and semi-precious), metal and faïence [tin-glazed earthen-ware]. So we have a very fitting sacred choice of symbol here Colin, for its artistic fashionment as well as its spiritual significance. The scarab beetle is known as ‘the dung beetle’ – because it makes balls of dung for its food or, more accurately, as a source of food for the larva which hatches from the egg laid within the dung ball.

There are many historical references to the scarab:-From very early times the beetle has been both a source of interest and an object of symbolism. Once, the beetles were thought to be all males – ( talk about the immaculate conception within the insect world) – and they appeared as military symbols worn in the rings of Roman soldiers. In Ancient Egypt the scarab was a truly sacred symbol, being associated with worship of the sun god and with resurrection and immortality. In the 3rd millennium B.C., finely carved scarabs started to be used as seals, and by the XII dynasty (2000-1788 B.C.) they had generally replaced cylinders for this purpose. Inscribed with quotations from the ‘Book of the Dead’, scarabs were often buried with mummies. They were also issued commemorating events such as Marriages and lion hunts were often commemorated with the issue of a scarab. The beetle was usually sculpted with folded wings but the wings were spread in some later examples.

An illustrious history indeed – the sacred lineage of such a creature leaves food for thought – for Mankind at least – with its evolution ensured, through its continued hatching within a plentiful larder!

And now, a more up-to-date reference to the scarab at the HoBB:-
So maybe, just maybe, we should re-search the form of the dung ball, upon which we might better place our prized, Colin-fashioned, example – so the sacred scarab may, once more, be ascribed with ‘the symbolic continuance of life’ as our human ancestors bestowed so long ago, and nature, in her infinate wisdom, continues to evolve.

Thank you Colin for bringing the scarab into ‘The HoBB world’ : The sacred life-force is ever present in each breth of wind and drop of rain within the HoBBian Hills – The Scarab looks forward to welcoming all home and speeding the journey of all who pass its way.

PS : When we have researched the form and ‘found’ our ‘dung-ball’, we will update where within the HoBB Gardens the scarab presides – so don’t forget to check back from time to time, or you won’t know where to look! We think the spirit of the trees here – especially the oaks will keep it company for a century or two …. then again, maybe the scarab would feel more at home in a less shaded part of the Gardens J Wonder what Monty Don would make of that hey?

Click Here for more of Colin’s Work.

Waves ~~~~~~~~~ <+))))))))>< ~~~ Grant

Living Pillars of Light for the Garden

living garden downlightsIt might work. It has taken a while but the living base sections for a series of outdoor lights have now grown with regular pruning and these will be ‘topped’ by half globe translucent all-weatherproof shades.

Each one of these living topiary pillars scattered around the HoBB Garden site will be supporting small ivy-covered domes to form down-lighters for gentle night illumination. (see diag.)

I know the effect I want to see as the light (cold light) shines through the ivy domes and highlights the topiary bases. Once I visualised it and got it down onto paper the rest was in the hands of ‘time’. The bases have been 5 years growing but could have been planted ‘fresh’ by bringing new plants to site but I may have been tempted to arrange these in a straight line or with some symmetry. By adapting the ‘nature’ that was existent, I have allowed the outcome of previous plants men to be incorporated into my designs.

I have never been the sort of Garden designer that turns up with a big skip at the front door, scrapes the garden flat and ditches the past ready to lay out fresh imported ‘everything’s’. There are few areas that demand such a ‘total’ swipe-out – most gardens have some fine specimens and very useful plants even when the new design being followed calls for 100% change.

The trick is to work with nature and compound the best – don’t ask me how confident I am that this more traditional Feng-Shui approach will be the norm in the future because too few gardeners that appear on television take this approach.

I recall one panel of garden experts on a radio programme giving advice about total re-designs and all but one suggested effectively destroying existing plants and buying in new. This is frequently the typical westernised view of even gardens designed to incorporate Feng-Shui principals.

And if you are wondering who the wonderful gardener was that said she always tries to re-home plants and she couldn’t even think about destroying the life of a garden or pot plant, it was Pippa Greenwood.

Yo Pippa! Respect! Plants are for life, not just for Christmas.

~~~~~~~~~~ <+))))))))>< ~~~ waves from Grant