The First time I remember seeing an abandoned piano was in Boston as I was heading to a Red-Sox game with Mark Moriarty on those back streets leading from Marks apartment which was much closer to the ball park than my own digs over on Commonwealth near Boston University. We stood for more than a few minutes looking at the sad remains of what was once a piano that at one point was certainly shiny and new, now weathered brutally with most of the guts of the piano missing.
Since the ‘Sox’ were calling, that was the last I saw of that piano but it is always some how with me as a reminder that almost no one has any idea what to do with an old piano!
Flash forward to tuning for the Washington D.C. public schools when one morning I got a call to go look at some pianos that equipment maintenance had picked up from various school buildings and left all weekend on the open flatbed truck in the rain (unbeleiveable but it happened). Of course the pianos were totaled and sadly were driven off to the dump, another memory that is with me to this day and again no 2nd life for a piano that has seen the end of days.
Then I came upon a short article in a gardening magazine that covered a wonderful story on what to do with an old piano that really never again will live the glory days of past.
The plan is basically to remove the piano plate and mount the plate on a display frame and then mirror the angles of the plate in the layout of the planting rows of the garden, transforming a small space into the essence of the piano.
This piano essence will endure as the piano plate with a good coat of paint should do fine outside and give the piano a final resting place that perhaps is more proper that a land fill.
Here are the few wonderful images by Ned O’Gorman that show the basic layout of the garden and the blue print of the design by Keith Corlett that you see above for the postage stamp size garden with the gardens harmonic curves and the Laffargue upright piano harp that inspired it all. Arborvitae and purple beech “piano pegs”end at a fountain.
Impatiens, Russian Sage, Delphinium, Asiatic Lilies and Ligularia “Skyrocket” in the piano garden. Slender Ailanthus trees dubbed Bronx Palms by Corlett is comfortable even on the hottest days. Additional plantings include Wisteria, Clematis and Trumpet Vines that eventually died and were replaced.
Perhaps a secret garden was never finer than this healing piano garden, to ponder, to dream, and to quote Yeats, ‘In dreams begins responsibility’.