The House Of Their Dreams, Newton, Mississippi

Directional signpoint to places of interest and garden areas

Some years ago, I was waiting outside a historical building for my sweetheart to finish a landscaping consultation when a gentleman approached. He urged us to take a look at his woodland garden, just a few streets away, even if we only had a few minutes. 

Handpainted mat: welcome to the house of my dreams

He explained that his wife was an artist and together they had creatively customised what they hoped would be their forever house. We had a busy day ahead but his enthusiasm was infectious and I felt curious.

Bottle tree with fairground horse

At the time I was just getting my head around the things Americans did in their gardens – the people my sweetheart knew, anyway. So, as you see, we took up the invitation. From the hand painted door mat (“Welcome to the house of my dreams”) to the fairground horse, to the door on the road to nowhere, to the flower power bench underneath the coffee cup tree, the house and garden were full of individual touches.

The English plant flowers, shrubs and trees in their gardens, add a couple of stone planters around the main entrance for decoration and think they’ve gone out on a limb if they hide a gnome somewhere. Americans always seem more empowered to do their own thing.

Mosaic barn

The midday sun was streaming through the shade wherever it could make its way through the tree canopy and the silhouettes of leaves add a felicitous extra layer of decoration to the tiled barn.

There were bottle trees of course (this is Mississippi) and a bottle tree chandelier I’ll save for another time. Bottle tree connoisseurs will find details to admire: the one on the left is a neatly finished wooden snag with nails or rebar to support the bottles; the pair on the right are metal, twisted to create an organic shape. I love the colourful glass bottles, being a bit of a magpie. If you look more closely at some of these pictures, you’ll find more surprises – a birdhouse, a mosaic path, hand painted uplighters…

Painted wheelbarrow

Even the old wheelbarrow was painted and cheerier for it. It looks as if they’ve been too busy accessorising the garden to do much bicycling, unless that vine is more vigorous than it looks!

Stained glass window

I believe this gorgeous stained glass door panel was made by the artist too. I left with the impression of a fulfilled couple, making the most of the freedom we should all have to express ourselves any way we want in our own spaces – if we dare to take it!

Shared for the weekly photo challenge: Surprise.

I wanted to credit the owners so I’m glad to learn that their names are Dottie and Andy Armstrong. 

36 Replies to “The House Of Their Dreams, Newton, Mississippi”

  1. “The English plant flowers, shrubs and trees in their gardens, add a couple of stone planters around the main entrance for decoration and think they’ve gone out on a limb if they hide a gnome somewhere.” All 55 million of us? Rather a sweeping generalisation don’t you think?

    1. You’re right of course. I’ve seen quite a few art in the garden exhibitions here, so the pieces must be going somewhere.

      If you know of any English gardens with home-made bottle trees, let me know. I’d love to add them to my to-visit list. I’ve been looking out for a few years now and have only ever heard of two gardens, and I don’t know where either of them are.

      1. This was neat to read about my Art teacher and American History teacher from high school. Very well written. The touring bicycle that is pictured has seen many, many hundreds of miles. You see, Andy use to spend his summers bicycling across America and Europe. Exploring and taking his children along for the adventure. I always looked forward to his stories when he came back. So glad you were able to see our sweet little town!

        1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s good to know that the bicycle had extra meaning for people familiar with Andy’s stories 🙂

  2. Love the creativity! The upside of being such an individualistic society \? (And there are plenty of downsides, too!) Yes, a sweeping generalization, but I think it fits, as long as you allow for lots of individual variation. Now, what was I saying about the U.S. being an individualistic society? 😉

    1. I always feel English gardeners are more confident with planting (on average, as a sweeping generalisation) and American gardeners are more confident and comfortable when it comes to garden art.

      It’s fine if people don’t want to accessorise but if people want to express themselves in their gardens, I love to see that too. I’m one of the repressed ones, though my sweetheart has recently sneaked one of his rescue gnomes and a few small bottles into my back yard.

  3. Love these photos that express the creative imagination of this couple. Yes, it’s very typical for Americans to extend their creativity and clutter outdoors when spaces inside the house have been filled with special treasures. But, I do enjoy the color and beauty that people create. It’s so fun to see other people’s ideas. We don’t have the wonderful historic sculptures, sculptured parks or museums found in old Europe so we sometimes create our own out of recycled items. Thanks for sharing this piece of America; it’s so fun to read your delightful posts.

    1. I like seeing other people’s ideas too. That’s one of the great things about blogging – we get to share what we see.

  4. I love the free spiritedness, but not everyone in the US is that creative, either. It isn’t exactly to my taste (I’m English and live in Texas, go figure) but I admire how they are fulfilling their own dreams. It certainly is cheery!

  5. How colourful and delightfully quirky.

    I do take your point re English restraint versus masterly planting, yet there are some British world class contemporary gardens here that succeed in doing both. Right on our doorstep is Anne Wareham’s and Charles Hawes’ masterpiece (with creative, wryly humourous and thought provoking ‘art’) The Veddw. Have you been there yet?

    1. No I haven’t but I’ve added it to my list of places I’d love to see. Is there any particular time of the year you’d recommend?

  6. Very inspirational, Susan! This is what I’m working toward here in Crystal Springs. Every year brings more transformation, and I’m loving the process! ❤

    1. Hi Shelly – that’s part of the fun! A garden is never finished. I’ve been wondering how much this one might have changed in the years since we were there.

  7. Yes, we should all do what we want with our private space as long as it isn’t harming the environment or other people. Gardens should be fun.

  8. Thanks for sharing! I am always inspired by others’ garden art. Here in Seattle, and we are funky, artsy gardeners for sure. I have seen bottle trees, one in particular in my community, but not aware of where the tradition comes from. Is it a southern thing? I love mosaics and painted steps and doors. I really like the door to nowhere! I had a front door that I gave away. I had tried to find a place for it, but couldn’t. It wasn’t as nice as the one with windows.

    1. I’ve seen them more often in the south. You can find lots of information online about their history. They’re a great way to add colour, especially in the winter, so they tend to spread – someone sees one and thinks “I could do that!”.

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