As most visitors to Gaiety Hollow know, the woodworking here is something special. Very few gardens exhibit the level of detail in the hardscape, especially in the woodworking. But the fences, arbors, gates and pergola certainly add to the mystique of this unique garden. It’s no small task to recreate this level of woodworking when repairs are required.
Dale Strand, who lived at Gaiety Hollow for many years, was an extraordinary woodworker and we appreciate how he applied these skills to preserving the woodworking throughout the property. For years, Dale had a master woodworker’s shop in the basement at Gaiety Hollow where he built beautiful Ming Dynasty replica hardwood furniture after the time-honored tradition of interlocking puzzle joints requiring no fasteners.
I was fortunate to have had a father who was very old school. He was born in China while his family was walking across Central Asia, fleeing the brutal Stalin regime in our Ukrainian homeland. When I was young, my dad taught me some woodshop skills that he had learned as an apprentice cabinet maker. During my time at community college, my father gave me some sound advice, saying “College and university are great, follow your dreams, but learn a trade so you always have something to fall back on.” That was good advice although I didn’t realize it at the time, and I grumbled at my dad when he placed me in a high-end woodshop building grand spiral staircases for mansions. Little did I realize as I went on to pursue a career in botany and horticulture, just how important that learning a trade would be.
The horticulture industry mirrors the general economy in terms of ups and downs, and I’ve observed that when one becomes unemployed in the plant industry, one could often find work in the carpentry trade. I’ve installed hardwood floors, restored wooden boats, finish trimmed houses, built garden trugs and now I find myself re-creating wonderful garden woodwork from a bygone era!
The woodwork at Gaiety Hollow is not standard “off the shelf” in terms of size or dimension and it requires custom woodworking skills. Lathe often must be ripped from larger stock, and one will quickly appreciate the level of detail in the woodwork if you try to square up a 30-plus stick built lathe arbor top! We are actively seeking interested woodworkers who would like to contribute to the restoration at Gaiety Hollow. If you are interested, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org