A Garden of Dickens, the Hobbit, Shakespeare & Fairies
At the end of my life, I will have judged my success by how much I have been on my knees in the garden tending to my beliefs.
That is but one of the many framed sayings interspersed throughout the gardens and workshops of Eddie Foisy.
Tacked on one wall in his workshop is a torn piece of paper that says ‘Question Reality’. A sign on his blacksmith shop states ‘J. Gargary‘, the blacksmith in one of his favorite books, Dicken’s, ‘Great Expectations’. And the sign over the outside entrance into to his workshop says, ‘Windlewisp’, Robin Hood’s refuge deep within Sherwood Forest.
His road to creating these gardens and this life was not an easy one. An artist, creator and academic, Eddie Foisy was born with Tourette’s syndrome, a neurobiological disorder that causes involuntary twitching. His parents called it a nervous twitch and it was never an issue at home. However, he was teased in school and as a result, retreated into the world of literature. Books transported him from the mystical land of Narnia to the fantasies of Alice in Wonderland. Eddie began to explore the world by traveling through history and delving into subjects from medicine to cooking to agriculture. Tourette’s might have determined the course of Eddie’s life, but it was he who turned it into a positive and creative force.
The entrance to the woodland gardens
Creating Classic Literature out of Gardens
Gardening has always been his passion and on few acres of land in the middle of Cape Cod he has created his own kingdom based on the world in which he was happiest as a boy. The land of Fairies, Camelot, Robin Hood, Dickens and Shakespeare have come alive within the guise of country gardens filled with towering colorful hollyhocks, six-foot tall foxglove, ladies mantle, mugwort, sage and varieties of mint. Old gnarled trees, now guarding serpentine paths, seem to have been waiting for him to define them and add his carefully constructed castles with turrets, small stone mounds where Faeries might live or a hovel for a visiting gnome amongst them. After all, he tells visiting children, there has to be someplace for Isabelle, the resident faerie to live as well as the Tooth Faerie, who spends most of the summer here.
Towering hollyhocks and foxglove become the ‘trees’ for the miniature castles
The Apothecary Garden
When Eddie initially began clearing the overgrown 19th century farmland, visions from his readings of the Middle Ages when Kings, chivalry and the belief in magic existed inspired him to create a Medieval Apothecary garden as the base of his garden philosophy. Also known as a Physic or Infirmary gardens, herbs and flowers are grown for medicinal use but are mixed in the same beds as non-useful flowers and vegetables. The Monks believed that an Apothecary garden should be beautiful and restorative. Even if non-edible, all flowers and things that grew were nourishment for the soul. As a matter of fact, a walk through the garden was prescribed as a cure for depression.
The entrance to the garden compound is home to the apothecary gardens
Friends, neighbors, school children or folks who have heard of Uncle Eddie find their way to his gardens. Hundreds have entered through the gates and are awed by the neatly laid out garden paths with castle turrets peaking out. Enchantment takes over as people begin to slow their steps to a meander when they realize they’ll miss details should they hurry. Tall Valerian, Russian Comfrey and Queen Anne’s lace blow in the wind like clouds over the faerie sized stone castles. Children and adults kneel down to look through the miniature doors and lead glass windows of faerie houses in hopes of spotting Isabelle the Faerie or perhaps they’ll find a chalice embedded in a mound of moss that could have once belonged to a knight or even King Arthur’s himself. Eddie smiles when they ask whose it is, for that is when he knows his intention has been accomplished. He has made people question reality, to think and rediscover the curiosity of the child they once were simply by walking through his gardens.
For years, Eddie has produced castles and designed enchanting gardens as his business. It all happens from his workshop. Should you be lucky enough to go in, you’ll find the foundation of what makes this man tick.
An old wood sleigh with antique toys spilling out of it hangs from the rafters and a pair of green elf slippers discreetly dangle from a high hook. And finally, we have it. Eddie confesses. His wish to inspire creativity in children and adults through his fantastical gardens goes much deeper. For if he could choose to be anything in the world – in the wildest of all dreams, he would be Santa Claus.
In the true spirit of Christmas, Eddie gives the intangible, the spirit of giving of oneself – the gift of imagination. What teachers spend years trying to instill in their students, he does when you stroll through his garden. There is no television or computer, just you, the gardens and your imagination.
Should you visit Uncle Eddie in Cape Cod this summer or any other time, be aware. You’re meeting one of the rarest of men, the king of his empire and a man who dreamt, who inspires others to dream because once upon a time he discovered the world of literature.
But, on the other hand, there are all of those toys hanging from the rafters. Do you suppose… ?
Among his many talents, Eddie also hand carves signs
Hanging in the rafters are one of several of his carved Santa Claus’ and old toys
Reality is for people who lack imagination
This article first appeared in our former publication, The Daily Basics.