Standing in New Orleans’s Jackson Square and feeding pigeons cracked corn is one of Christopher Spitzmiller’s favorite childhood memories. “They would fly up and perch on your hand,” recalls the acclaimed ceramic artist, designer of must-have custom-made lamps and tableware. “It was better than Disney World.”
At Clove Brook Farm, Spitzmiller’s home in New York’s Hudson Valley, that reminiscence has been reconstituted, thanks to the dovecote he recently constructed at the center of a parterre that brims, depending on the season, with tulips, sweet peas, and dahlias. It was modeled after the whimsical octagonal “martini houses” at P. Allen Smith’s Arkansas home – the garden guru is a longtime friend – and punctuates Spitzmiller’s landscape like an ornamental lantern.
Doves perch and preen on a tree trunk that rises inside the octagonal folly.
Recycled elements, such as vintage windows found on the side of a country road and floorboards salvaged from an old barn on the property, give the dovecote a venerable attitude. “You have to integrate old things, so a building doesn’t look brand-new,” he notes. Crowning the hipped roof is another vintage find: a lead sculpture that depicts a pigeon taking flight. It’s usually joined by the real thing, namely some of Spitzmiller’s 16 Indian fantails, fancy strutters shimmering with purple, bronze, and turquoise-blue feathers.
The man of the house, joined by one of his light Sussex chickens.