Every garden needs a folly

It was comedian Billy Connolly who  said that Scotland had two seasons: June and Winter. After two days of fine weather, the rain is back, complete with thunder. That will be summer over then. It was so wet this morning, that I thought I would spend an hour cleaning up the folly.

Most follies are fantasy buildings placed in suitable spots in a garden. Ruins, and grottoes were popular in the eighteenth century, while you can find some good modern examples on this blog. And here is how to build one from branches. Inevitably, there is a British society dedicated to follies, with useful maps and pictures.

But my folly isn’t  a building; it’s a stone:This huge slab of sandstone used to lie horizontally half-buried in the meconposis bed behind it. As a family, we used to hope it was the capstone for the grave of some ancient princeling, concealing a hoard of gold treasure. The prosaic truth is doubtless that it was quarried out of what is now the pond when the mill was built, but proved impossible to split and too heavy to move far. So it was dragged aside and left.

About ten years ago I thought it would be more fun if it became a proper standing stone. It was a two-day job for three of us to get it upright, using block and tackle slung into the nearby trees, and then to get it sunk sufficiently far into the ground to be stable and not fall on some passing child. Beneath the ground it’s anchored with iron stakes and packed rubble. It makes an excellent background to the blue poppies when they are in flower.In exchange for some surplus floor tiles, I asked a local artist to trace a Pictish symbol onto the surface. The enigmatic Iron age Pictish symbol stones are found all over north-east Scotland: – relics of a now vanished race. As you can see from these images, they were rather better stone carvers than I am.

Over the years, my symbol had become too weathered to be really visible, so I spent a happy hour this morning in the rain with a hammer and cold chisel to bring it back to life. I doubt it will confuse the archaeologists of the future, but you never know!


14 thoughts on “Every garden needs a folly

    • That’s just great. I’ve taken the link up into the text , if that’s OK,so that others are morel likely to see it. A lot more work than simply heaving a stone into place!

  1. I would be very fat if I lived where you live: all day eating and reading, looking if it stopped raining from time to time. I really like seeing pictures of your garden though. You’re right: the light is fantastic. I think that stone is perfect there, I’m not a garden gadget lover but stones and big rocks are always welcome, especially in a misty(c) place like your garden!

  2. Somehow I missed this post earlier. A tragedy, since a standing stone has been on my Christmas list for years. (Really much more practical than installing an ocean.) They are glorious, the ancient stones, and yours has its own wonderful history, plus looks very authentic and would likely fool the Antiques Roadshow television people. I’m just so terribly, terribly jealous of your standing stone that I don’t know if I can paint today.

    • Linnie, Surely Oregon is full of stones? Can you not find a sympathic quarry owner? Or raise sponsorship? (Even a Macdonalds logo carved on the surface might look mysterious in a few thousand years!)

  3. As far as follies go, yours seem very restrained and – even – elegant. I’m with Linnie in being jealous of your folly; I will have to restrict myself to a cairn, as it seems the only large stones within miles of my garden have already been used to make (real) bronze age burial mounds.

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