The Great Outdoors

With DC and many other cities venturing into phase 2 of reopening, it feels like we are cautiously beginning to emerge from the hard parts of the COVID-19 quarantine. But with many states experiencing spikes, it is recommended that we continue to be vigilant. We are encouraged to wear masks, social distance, and spend time outside.  Speaking of spending time outside…I love the idea of gardening as a balm to our spirit and health during this time.  And as a way to spend time with our friends and family while maintaining social distance, being outdoors in a space you’ve created is tough to beat.

I have always had gardens and have what would be called a green thumb.  When I put fingers to dirt, and add water and sun…things grow. I have no particular method or methodology for my garden. I prefer the wild mix of colorful flowers, useful herbs and repurposed African art mixed in to make it really feel like my own creation.

The Bird Metal sculpture is called Amour (Love) and is by Senegalese artist, Sea Diallo

For me, gardening brings the satisfaction of watching things grow and monitoring the movement of the seasons.  I tend to plant mostly perennials. In February, when the days are still dark and cold, I start looking for the little shoots that tell me spring is not too far away.  During the short, cold days, I can look forward to sunny evenings outdoors and daydream about how amazing this year’s garden will look.

The fish chair is the top of a broken chair that came from Malawi, then painted

So now we are here in June, high season for the garden and where I plan to spend lots of time.  I improve that experience with items from Zawadi arts: a straw hat adorned with a lovely African fabric tie which can also be used as a face mask; another handy face mask with a functional elastic necklace From JCovers in case I get a visitor; vibrant pillows from XNasozi and colorful cups from Thumbprint artifacts to fill with tea, and a good book. I may peruse through cookbooks like Carla Hall’s Soul Food or Marcus Samuelsson’s Off Duty for easy recipes and drinks to entertain (not more than ten friends )

Repurposing, recycling of African art is a special part of my garden experience. Clay items particularly have a tendency to break around me, so I plant them. Legs that have fallen off of statues, and metal pieces like the healing staff I purchased years ago want to be in their natural outside environment.  I had been looking at the wooden beer mugs in the shop and realized that maybe their rustic and beautiful shape would make a lovely cut flower container.  I created it by simply putting a glass with flowers inside and then smiled.  

There are multiple corners in my yard where a sculpture peeps out, or a Haitian Metal art piece beams in the sun, or a broken vase with color highlights a head.  I enjoy them.   I am fortunate that I have Zawadiarts to draw on but there are other avenues and sometimes just a different way of looking at broken objects.  If it has color and some interest, find a place where it can compliment the greenery. If you have a tourist statue you don’t want in your house, plant it.  There are no rules and no limits to where your creativity can take you.  Zawadiarts may even have some broken pieces she would be happy to repurpose in a garden. 

However, enjoying the great outdoors is not just for those who have a garden. A couple of years ago, Faraji and Nasozi did a great photo shoot for her business (Xn Studio) at her then apartment’s rooftop. It’s amazing what simple items can do, and I really love the juxtaposition of traditional African pieces like Mudcloth throws, stools, masks, and wax print pillows on modern furniture and decking.

Happy gardening, and if you have pictures of your own outdoor oasis made more special with Zawadi sourced products, please email them to us or tag us on Facebook or Instagram so we can feature them on our social media sites!

Safely Enjoy the Great Outdoors!


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