We usually think of tea gardens (also called estates and plantations) as those places where the tea bush Camellia Sinensis is cultivated. The very term “tea garden” brings up images of neatly tended rows like those in Japan shown in the photo below. But in this case, I mean a very different kind of tea garden. This is where clever gardeners with a passion for tea and/or whimsy add some tea time touches to their own tended plots, small and large.

Tea Fields Of Yame Fukuoka Japan from Globeimages.net (From Yahoo! Images)

Tea Fields Of Yame Fukuoka Japan from Globeimages.net (From Yahoo! Images)

Hubby was leafing through a seven-year-old copy of the magazine Cottages & Bungalows one day and got a bit excited … as in rushing over with the magazine open to a particular page and putting it in-between me and my laptop monitor (not as dangerous as putting it in-between me and chocolate or my full teacup … but close). It took me a moment to see what he was excited about – a bird feeder in the shape of a teacup and saucer. Just one of the delights in a fabulous “tea” garden surrounding a lovely brick cottage.

Teacup bird feeder designs are numerous, it seems, and quite popular. Some are homemade, using actual teacups and saucers that the owners think are not useful anymore for drinking tea from. Some are bought pre-made from a gardening store or elsewhere. Some people put birdseed in the saucer only and water in the cup. Some feeders have a cup on its side on the saucer. Some hang while others are mounted on poles, posts, or even rocks.

A representative sampling of teacup birdfeeders. (From Yahoo! Images)

A representative sampling of teacup birdfeeders. (From Yahoo! Images)

Teapots seem to be subjected to this treatment, too. My buddy Little Yellow Teapot upon whom hubby and I depend for steeping up tasty tea, especially samples sent to us by various tea vendors, was quite horrified to see one of his siblings made into a birdfeeder. He hid in a cupboard for two days, saying “How could they? Poor Morris!” (Apparently, he recognized this sibling.)

The birdfeeder on the left (Yahoo! Images) appears to be a sibling of my own Little Yellow Teapot on the right (photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved).

The birdfeeder on the left (Yahoo! Images) appears to be a sibling of my own Little Yellow Teapot on the right (photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved).

Garden fountains also have been known to take on a tea theme. Teapots and cups both get into the act. They burble away in a corner or splash boldly in the center of a floral array. They emerge from walls or sit atop rocks. Some are constructed from actual teapots and teacups while others are designed to look like teapots and teacups. They all bring that aqua element – an essential part of any tea time – to the great outdoors, to sun and shade, and in all kinds of weather (hint: drain out the water if the temperature outside is going to go below 32°F to prevent damage from water expanding as it freezes).

A representative sampling of teacup garden fountains. (From Yahoo! Images)

A representative sampling of teacup garden fountains. (From Yahoo! Images)

Yes, tea has a definite place in the joy of gardening, and as Spring starts to peek its head around the corner of the calendar, it’s time to start thinking about garden plans and ways to add that special accent to some corner that is otherwise bare or a spot by the sidewalk that tends to look lonesome. For inspiration, steep up a pot of tea and let it put you in tune with the “garden muses.”

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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