Whether seeking to beautify an expanse of featureless turf, add some character to a walkway, or even provide an attractive security barrier, there are occasions that call for a little artistry to break up the monotony of endless grass. When it comes to landscape design, there’s nothing as elegant as a hand-crafted planter overflowing with flowers and greenery to transform a featureless area into an enticing garden. When designing an outdoor space, whether it’s small and confined or spacious, adding sculptural elements can make a huge difference. Statuary can suggest a whimsical Alice in Wonderland land of enchantment; daintily crafted birdbaths, figurines, or statues can emblemize ancient Greece, a French chateau, or an English garden.
We recently visited Brookfield’s Ringgold, Georgia, office, just over the Tennessee/Georgia line where co-owner Hilda Jones gave us a crash course on concrete casting. Jones led us through her manufacturing plant and storage — or should I say, outdoor/indoor display area – and commented on the qualities found in better-made concrete products, among them durability. The reason for their durability, she explained, were the many reinforcing short fibers from polypropylene woven throughout the concrete.
“We had a landscape architect in Charleston, South Carolina, call us up after a hurricane to tell us the storm had devastated the house he’d been working on and the Brookfield planters were all that remained,” she commented.
After an earlier career teaching art, Hilda Jones and friend John Cline founded The Brookfield Company to help landscape architects and designers achieve such effects. While there are various factory-made options in planters and statuary – most of them imported – what makes Brookfield exceptional is not only the hands-on design, but also the durability and quality of the work. Based just down the road from Chattanooga, Tennessee, the two owners of Brookfield oversee and execute almost all the work themselves.
Brookfield creations have found a home on quite a few golf courses. One of the more unique applications Jones mentioned was undertaken at a course in the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, in South Carolina. “The builders put one of our fountains behind every home along fairway. It was really remarkable.”
Over the years, Jones’ sculptural clay work has grown to form the basis for all her professional endeavors. She has earned a Master’s Degree in Ceramics and a Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education. Her designs exemplify high aesthetic standards, exquisite craftsmanship, and attention to detail. In a fast-paced world that constantly seeks to commoditize our visual surroundings, it’s extremely refreshing to still be able to acquire this level of workmanship at such an affordable price.
Case in point — the course at Black Creek Club in Chattanooga, Tennessee, designed by Golf World’s 1999 Architect of the Year, Brian Silva, was an early adopter. Oversized urns and planters are used to add character and are filled to overflowing with colorful flowering plants.
Jones’ porcelain sculptures are held in many private and corporate collections. She has shown her artwork nationally and internationally and enjoys teaching workshops in ceramics when time allows. And yet, the humblest space can be graced by her work.
John and Hilda’s designs are used to form the molds used to produce objects of various kinds, from elaborate birdbaths and sculpted figurines, to sturdy planters and gushing fountains. Cline earned a MFA in sculpture and a BA in Fine Arts and has devoted his professional efforts to establishing The Brookfield Company as a design leader in the field.
As founder and co-owner, John works long hours to execute planter and sculpture designs that are clearly superior and of lasting importance. As sculptor, John has shown his work nationally and internationally. He has works in many collections and enjoys teaching evening ceramics classes at a local university.
Before we left, our suggestion to Jones and Cline was to persuade the White House to replace their dull concrete security blocks with rock-solid Brookfield planters filled with luscious flora. “It is really tough to plow through a 1,000-pound planter filled with dirt,” grinned Jones.