Some weeks ago I posted some pictures of that giant full moon-under the title “Luminous”.  I am reminded of this today-our shop fountains are up and running, courtesy of one of my crews.  Water over a surface gives life to that surface such it brings to mind another lu word- luster.  The science behind this has to do with light refraction, but I am interested in something else entirely.  Water is alive; its lustrous quality has everything to do with that quality of life.  Jenny was kind enough to model this fabulous stocking cap with its monumental pompon-for this reason.  Wool is hair from a living creature.  Jenny’s hair is a living part of her-both the wool and her hair have luster-just look.  

The hair which describes these pussy willows about to bloom is lustrous.  Our sunny day today made that hair glow. The stems and bud casings (please forgive my lame botanical nomenclature here-) glow in the same way-lustrous life.  This has to be the most exciting thing about spring for anyone who loves a garden-the return of the luster.  Winter absorbs every ounce of a gardeners life and will, and gives back little.  My Estonian readers no doubt will differ with this opinion, but we do not have crystalline, and so beautifully lustrous winters as they do.  Our winter is grey and more grey.      

House paint can be ordered in no end of varying degrees of surface shine.  Matte, eggshell, semi-gloss, gloss.  When I retire, it is my plan to research and learn about how they do this.  But for now, I am focused on the coming of the spring, and what signs I see that tell me my garden is awakening. I know the sap rising in the trees brings bark back to visual life. The luster of living things is a sheen no paint can reproduce; once you’ve had an encounter with natural luster, you will be hard pressed to do without it.  

Water in a garden-I am a fan.  No matter how modest its form, water is all about life in motion.  The glaze on this terra cotta fountain jar comes to life, once the water coats its surface.  The glaze running anticipates a watery, and lustrous surface.  Given the physics of surface tension, I could hook this up in my living room-no splash.  Just a gorgeous and subtly moving surface. 

Stone is porous-life takes hold and moves in to make cities on its surface.  The stone absorbs light.  The lichens live in spite of irregular water.  Their surface is matte-absorptive of light just like the stone.  Over the course of a rainy spell, the stone and the lichens will glow. What does this mean for how you design?  Contrasting surfaces make for interest that has a long life-put those matte surfaces up close to your eye and view. Lustrous surfaces read from a long way away, and draw you out to them. 

Though paint surfaces never fool my eye, I do admire clay surfaces that have luster. In my imagination, the minerals that largely figure in that clay surface soup glaze- they melt, and vitrify, under high heat. To vitrify-this to me means heating to the point that makes for a glassy surface.  Is this why magnolia leaves always look so lustrous to me?  Those really large waxy leaves glow in the heat.     

Boxwood lives and breathes much the same for me.  Those diminuitive evergreen leaves have a lustrous surface-no matter the weather, no matter the season.  They shine, those living leaves. This rounded clay pot makes a good run at lustrous-I could see it planted in the sun or the shade, with plants equally lustrous, or those wry and dry plants that make a surprisingly big impact. This pot with a low and wide boxwood-juicy, and lustrous. By way of contrast, Rosemary and trailing strawberries would make a picture you wouldn’t tire of.

Water over a surface, water bringing the sound of life to a garden-consider it. Every gardening life is all for the better, given a little glow.  Dry and dead-every gardener out there knows what it means to loose a plant.  The surface goes dry and out.  Luster in any form attracts me-I like the living and breathing that a garden brings to my life.

Water-the juicy sound and presence of water can transform a garden.  If you have no water as of yet-consider it.  There are more ways to get luster-beyond boxwood, magnolia, rhododendron, and pepperomia. Your patch of water might light up, should you place a potted tibouchina next to it.  Oh the possibilities! -it is spring. 

For those who might have an interest in this entire lustrous and monumental hat-what she calls her Brobdingnagian hat-here it is in all its glory.  From Kokoo, on etsy.  I believe were she not so busy designing and knitting the most fabulous and lustrous sculptures that a person might wear, she might be a gardener.  She understands everything about luster.

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