After meeting up, we headed from the Lawndale Art Center area toward the Heights area and a new day of planting. This is when our paths crossed with that of Dennis Wilson. I barely saw him out of the corner of my eye as we drove along Main Street past Dennis Street. I demanded we go back to see if he and his garden were real or a dream.
Dennis cultivates his gardens (he has others around town) through a system of ritual, chance, and instruction from Mother Nature. He began by planting aloe vera, and whenever a plant went missing from his garden, he replaced it with a cactus. He has since moved on to planting palms and plums and placing objects such as bangles, rocks, oranges, bricks and a toothbrush in the garden. He even inserts earring studs into the cactuses where their prickles have been lost. Along with the plants, the garden nurtures the objects Dennis finds or is lead to find by Mother Nature. Before we moved on, he showed us a secret area where we could leave him messages.-e.s.
We had an interesting discussion after meeting Dennis about whether or not he was insane. Emily and Joel insisted he was just eccentric, while I contended that he was completely bughouse. This past week, though, we've been cutting together video footage, which includes about fifteen minutes of our experience with Dennis, and I found much of his frenetic monologue fascinating and inspiring. We went back again recently to take some more photos. He wasn't there, but the garden was almost completely different. Every section had some new sprout, arrangement, or minor addition. I noticed how delicate the entire thing was, how much care had been taken with each and every detail, and I was finally able to see what Emily and Joel had seen all along. The work of a man who truly loves what he does. -Eric
Emily, Joel, Dennis and Dennis's garden on the corner of Dennis and Main St.