Master Gardener’s Discovery Garden Sculpture

The Onslow County North Carolina, Master Gardeners are building a show garden as a learning center, plant display, and as a place of beauty for people in the area, and I get to be part of it!

The Discovery Garden will be a beautiful showplace for plants and trees which are native to the coastal area of North Carolina.  There will also be hard-scape such as southern plantation influenced buildings and water ponds, all demonstrating different aspects of permanent culture water conservation and beautiful plantings.

They sent out a request for proposals on designs to be used in the entryway of the garden. And my design was accepted.drawing

Once I started designing the sculpture, it was obvious I wanted to have a number of metal plants (because I am a metal artist) that were native to North Carolina and colored with metal dyes.  The dyes were to be used, as opposed to using paint, to achieve a watercolor effect with the plants and remove them from that harsh painted color feel.  the remainder of the area was to be maintained by the Master Gardeners who would add seasonal flowers through out the year.

So now the challenge was to make the plants in a way that would stand up to the environment and still look native and botanically (somewhat) correct.  So I was off, creating something new!

I started by drawing a number of different shapes and leaf designs on a computer to be cut with a laser.  Each of the leaves had to be slightly different to look more natural.



The leaves had to be textured so as to look like…wait for it….leaves.

I used my modified arbor press to make the job something I could do without having to heat and hot forge every leaf.  Cold forging it sometimes a lot tougher…but with a press it came off great.  I wrote about it in a previous blog, here.

leaf bend 1sleaf bend 2s

The tree trunk was a lot of fun.  Fun if you love beating on a piece of metal for 2 hours…  and I guess I do.  It all was planned out on paper but the transfer to 3D is always a challenge.  Sooner or later you have to just make something and check it out.

I think the trees turned out nice so I moved on to the fence.

The design called for the fence to start at about 40 inches high and go to 18 inches.  I went by a sheerfriends shop who has an ironworker.  This is a machine which can cut metal with the push of a button!   And boy did I love pushing that button. It cut all the pickets, angled the tops and punched the holes for the welds!   In other words, saved me about 2 days work. (Writer’s Note: Christmas is coming and an Ironworker would look great under the tree… or maybe next to the tree)


Yes it was hot that day!









Paulina Gwaltney Photography made a video of some of the process, and can be seen here.

The finish is metal dies and paint.  There are so many angles and nooks that I am not sure I would ever find all the surfaces that need to be covered.

The installation went well and there was a big dedication.  Lots of fun!

blog photo s

The Master Gardeners are going to landscape the rest of the entry with seasonal flowers.  It should be a great first impression of the garden.  Those folks were great to work with on the project.

Go by and see it if you are in the Jacksonville area, it is located on Hwy 258/24.

Oh, one more thing,  they also are using a stylized version of my drawing as the logo for the gardens.

garden logo


I’d love to hear you comments,

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