Part Two: How Did the Patrick Dougherty’s “Stickwork” Exhibition Come to be at the McKee Botanical Garden?

Patricia Targett, from Marlborough, N.H. hiding at Stickwork, McKee Botanical Garden

Patricia Targett, from Marlborough, N.H. hiding at Stickwork, McKee Botanical Garden

Even though Patrick Daugherty began his Stickwork sculpture project at the McKee Botanical Garden on January 6, 2016, the project was actually envisioned three years ago when a McKee Board member suggested he come here to create a large-scale sculpture. The reason it took three years to become a reality is because Patrick works with a three-year backlog of projects “around the world.” Ours was his 268th project.

Around the world really means around the world, from Korea to France to Italy to Australia to Denmark to Mexico and so on; as well as at plethora of locations around the United States. At the time the sculpture exhibition was envisioned a generous friend of McKee offered to underwrite the project.

Then Patrick came to McKee for site visits to evaluate the landscape and begin to imagine his work of art. Because of McKee’s natural surroundings within the Royal Palm Grove, he “wanted to create something ‘royal’ that would blend in.” Thus, his Stickwork sculpture has been named “The Royals.”

“The Royals”   Photo by JPR Images

“The Royals” Photo by JPR Images

But before Patrick, his full-time assistant Dorothy Bank, McKee horticulture staff member Rebeca Siplak, a team of local and out of state volunteers and several other McKee staff members began building the sculpture extensive collaboration was required.

To begin with, since shrub willow sticks are not indigenous to Florida where would they come from?

It so happens there is a company in Ferdona, New York, Double A Willow, which has developed a large impressive nursery to grow shrub willow for uses such as snow and privacy fences, living walls, riparian buffers, phytoremediation projects and ornamental uses such as basketry and dried willow arrangements.

The willow for The Royals, procured by the generous underwriting of a McKee friend, was trucked to McKee. Aiello Landscape, Vero Beach, Florida, donated the unloading.

Aiello Landscape unloading the truckload of saplings

Aiello Landscape unloading the truckload of saplings

Then, of course, there were supplies to be procured, such as pruning shears and gloves. Scaffolding needed to be located.

The Vero Beach Hampton Inn generously donated Patrick’s accommodations during his stay.

Vero Beach Hampton Inn. Photo by Leonardo.

Vero Beach Hampton Inn. Photo by Leonardo.

And then there were the volunteers, who came from all over the country. Patrick said he “loves to create a volunteer community and bring out their best.”

“This project had a wonderful group of volunteers who came together like a small indigenous tribe to work on beauty and to burnish our object till it shone in its location.”

Patrick Dougherty

Patrick Dougherty

According to Dorothy Bank, Patrick’s full-time assistant, Patrick “is very emotional, eco friendly and conscientious about nature. He is an environmental steward.”

Asked how long the exhibit will last at McKee, Dorothy said: “Until nature breaks it down.”

In our next article we will review the “mechanics” of Patrick’s Stickwork business.

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