Joseph Laux, Garden

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  • Location:

    Deptford Township, New Jersey, USA (Map)

  • Status:


  • Artist:
  • Built:

    begun 1945

  • Materials:

    stone, shell, glass, recycled materials

About the Artist/Site

Beginning in 1945, and working for nine years, carpenter Joseph Laux built a miniature version of an English fortress, complete with castles and moats, on the 40 x 30 foot yard that adjoined his home on Route 41 in Deptford, New Jersey.

At age 41, Laux began collecting colored stones, shells, glass, and pieces of china while traveling across the country with his wife, Eva. On their return, Laux would use the gathered materials selectively: He employed shells and rocks to decorate 35-foot-long bridges and 8-foot-high baskets, encrusted tiny castles with blue-green glass, and covered the surface of a small windmill with broken china. He fashioned the mill’s vanes out of Venetian blinds he trimmed and dyed pink. He added his own architecturally distinct wooden birdhouses to the garden, installing them on poles.

Laux said the idea for the miniature castles came from Walt Disney movies. He attributed his skills to his parents, German farmers who immigrated to Swedesboro, New Jersey, and who taught their children to use a broad range of tools—from a plow to a sewing machine.

Until he became ill in 1987 and could no longer do so, Joseph Laux toured guests around the property, recalling the origin of every object chosen for his garden. He also left a notepad and pencil by the front door so that visitors could leave messages if he was not available to guide them through his garden. Over a thousand people did so every year.

Joseph Laux died in 1991, but relatives continued to care for the property. As of 2010, most of his art environment remains intact.

~Holly Metz

SPACES Archives Holdings

1 folder: images

Map and site information

1493 Hurffville Rd
Deptford Township, New Jersey, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 39.809183 / -75.093272


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