Rustic bench at Ladder Creek Gardens, Newhalem, Washington. Photo taken 1989 for an Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
The gardens, next to Ladder Creek Falls, were landscaped during the 1930s as a showcase for the Skagit Hydroelectric Project, which now provides power to the city of Seattle.
My husband and I were arguing about a bench we wanted to buy and put in part of our backyard, a part which is actually a meadow of sorts. . . . My husband wanted a four foot bench and I wanted a five foot bench. This is what we argued about. My husband insisted that a four foot bench was all we needed, since no more than two people (presumably ourselves) would ever sit on it at the same time. I felt his reasoning was not only beside the point but missed it entirely; I said what mattered most to me was the idea of the bench, the look of it there, to be gazed at with only the vaguest notion it could hold more people than would ever actually sit down. The life of the bench in my imagination was more important than any practical function the bench might serve. . . .
— Mary Ruefle, from “The Bench“
4 thoughts on “Vintage landscape: the bench”
I agree benches hold much more importance in a garden than just practical measures.
In landscape design class, we learned that benches or chairs can be useful ornamental features in a large area (especially in the middle distance) because they readily remind the viewer of human scale. So they would also readily people the garden in the mind.
If that bench could talk . . .
It was once a huge tree as well. The gardens were originally planted out as an exotic park with tropicals. But little of that remains apparently.