Dambo troll enchants Austinites at Pease Park Leave a comment

March 21, 2024

A friendly troll has taken up residence in Pease Park, and Austin is going troll crazy. Built by Danish recycle artist Thomas Dambo, who dreams up and installs whimsical, wooden trolls at sites all over the world, Malin is Dambo’s latest creation.

Commissioned by Pease Park Conservancy and funded by donors, 18-foot-tall Malin sits placidly in a glade along a wooded trail, holding a shallow bowl and gazing down at her human visitors.

Her bowl is an offering of water to wildlife, but she might need our help to keep it filled.

According to KUT.org, Dambo “first visited Austin in August 2023 — during one of the hottest summers the city has ever experienced….Dambo learned that Austinites put out bowls of water to help squirrels and birds. That idea of human-animal cooperation formed the basis for Malin’s design. ‘We have to remember that we coexist in our world together with the animals,’ he said. ‘Humans take up more and more and more and more space of the world, so basically there’s only the leftover space left for the animals. So they can only exist if we allow them to.’”

A poem about Malin’s fountain (her bowl) is engraved on a nearby rock, seemingly quoting from the troll herself:

Sometimes the summer times are dry

Sometimes the sky will cry

Sometimes the fountain is full of rain

Sometimes an empty drain

Sometimes are good for summer birds

Sometimes are cursed with thirst

So it always makes a difference when

You fill the fountain up again

Like all Dambo trolls, most of the wood used to construct Malin came from recycled, repurposed, or found materials, according to Pease Park Conservancy. Her shaggy, gray hair is made from cedar tree roots!

Malin’s theme of water scarcity and helping wildlife fits right in with Austin’s ethos. I hope she lives a long, happy life in Pease Park engaging with visitors.

While we were at the park, we stopped to play in the Treehouse, a Death Star-looking steel sphere with a gigantic net suspended in the middle.

A steel catwalk leads you inside.

My husband carefully bounded around a few kids and then posed for a panorama shot that shows the rebar-walled architecture of the Treehouse.

Heading back to our car, past the WPA picnic tables and a candy-pink swath of pink evening primrose

I’d read that another troll has come to live near Pease Park, and we went hunting for him. Just up the road from the park, a scarier but smaller troll is the creation of Gary Schumann, who tends a tiny planted area in a traffic median dubbed BEPI Park. According to KUT.org, “West Austin’s BEPI Park is a 50-square-foot traffic median at the intersections of Baylor, Enfield and Parkway roads. After the City of Austin installed the median in front of Schumann’s house seven years ago for pedestrian safety, he took over its landscaping — and gave it a bit of a cheeky personality.”

Schumann apparently decided that Malin needed a friend and built his own troll out of wine barrels, mop heads, and other repurposed items. It’s hilarious.

Keeping Austin weird — and troll friendly!

By the way, if you missed my photos of Dambo’s trolls at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

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Digging Deeper

March 30-31: Come see the Austin Cactus & Succulent Society Show at Zilker Botanical Garden on 3/30 and 3/31, from 10 am to 5 pm. Includes a plant show with specimen cacti and succulents, handcrafted pottery, daily silent auction and hourly plant raffles, and expert advice. Admission is included with paid admission to Zilker Garden, $5 to $8 for adults, $3 to $4 for children (under 2 free).

April 6: Come out to Austin’s Mayfield Park on 4/6 for the Mayfield Park Gardening Symposium & Fundraiser, 8:30 to 11 am. This annual benefit for the park includes a raffle, plant sale, and garden speakers.

May 4: Explore “brilliant backyards, perfect pools and pergolas, and outdoor rooms and gardens” on the ATX Outdoor Living Tour on 5/4, 10 am to 3 pm. Landscape architects, designers, and builders will be on hand to answer questions. Tickets are $33.85 for adults, $17.85 for kids age 10-17.

May 11: Save the date for Austin Home’s Great Outdoors Tour on 5/11.

June 1-2: Take a self-guided, 2-day tour of ponds and gardens in and around Austin on the annual Austin Pond and Garden Tour, held 6/1 and 6/2, 9 am to 5 pm. Tickets are $20 to $25.

Come learn about gardening and design at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, authors, and gardeners a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance; simply click this link and ask to be added. Season 8 kicks off in fall 2024. Stay tuned for more info!

All material © 2024 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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