Artist, gardener Bill Kramer contemplates artwork of nature

By Dooley Berry
Posted 8/1/13

Retired Spanish Fort resident Bill Kramer has fashioned his retirement days around reveling in his devout love of plants — indeed, all of nature — and transferring both of those onto brightly-colored canvases.

"I get much of my inspiration …

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Artist, gardener Bill Kramer contemplates artwork of nature


Retired Spanish Fort resident Bill Kramer has fashioned his retirement days around reveling in his devout love of plants — indeed, all of nature — and transferring both of those onto brightly-colored canvases.

"I get much of my inspiration for painting from flowers and really all of nature," Bill shares. “Art and nature go together. I receive energy from nature, which assists me in creating my paintings. I choose to paint in the abstract because I find it impossible to duplicate nature. I try to share the positive energy found there abstractly, which allows the observer to make his own interpretation."

This 70-year-old vibrant gardener was born in Hartford, Conn. and has lived in such diverse gardening locations as New York, Miami, North Carolina, Seattle and Hawaii.

But wherever he has lived, he honed and honored his close connection with nature and created lovely gardens using appropriate plants for each setting.

"I have a gift for creating," Bill says. "Even though I was discouraged by some of my college teachers, I have always carried an easel with me and began painting in earnest again in 2002. These years of retirement are such a blessing."

Bill's love of creating gardens and exploring the magic of nature began early.

"As a young man in North Carolina, I lived for four years on the barter system in an abandoned shack with no plumbing or running water," he remembers. "I grew food that I traded for meat, I milked a cow and bartered the milk for other goods, and I bathed in a fresh-water stream for all that time. It was an incredible time in my life.”

Bill and his long-term partner of 31 years found their way to Spanish Fort three years ago.

"We feel so blessed to be here," Bill says. "After all the years of moving around in this country, this may well be our final destination."

Since moving in, Bill has redesigned both the house and garden himself.

He repainted and redid the lovely entrance door and shutters to their home and replaced a backyard of grass with a tropical botanical garden filled with bamboo varieties and Confederate jasmine, lushly entwined over fences and a pergola.

He also added both a hot tub with privacy fence and a gurgling goldfish pond.

All of this was fashioned to add the peaceful privacy that Bill cherishes and to provide a charming outdoor canvas upon which Mother Nature establishes her beautiful reign.

"When we lived in Hawaii, I loved the sultry tropicals that flourish there,” Bill says. “I have included my favorite plants, bamboo, palms, and tree ferns to give the tropical look that I love here."

Bamboo, which is actually a kind of grass, belongs to a tribe of fast-growing, flowering perennial evergreen plants. Some varieties have recorded growth rates of 39 inches in 24 hours!

"I include it in my yard for its wispy, calming personality," Bill says.

Along with several bamboo varieties, Bill has included roses and cleomes in deep pink shades, daisies, Confederate Jasmine, azaleas, lilies, irises, banana shrubs, ferns and philodendrons to enhance the beauty of his garden.

Flavorful vegetables and herbs are not neglected here either. The lush yellow flowers of okra, purple eggplant, several pepper varieties, basil, mint, thyme, fennel and rosemary add their sensory pleasures to Bill's garden retreat.

All of these brilliant colors and textures nourish Bill's soul and provide inspiration for his art.

"Plants bring life," Bill says. "I keep fresh flowers in the house because I believe they give good energy."

On a summer day, Bill is kept busy with every gardener's chores — watering mostly by hand and that eternal job of weeding.

Ecologically mindful, Bill uses a battery-operated push mower to keep his lawn in shape. He sometimes enhances the soil in his beds and containers with turkey manure, which certainly has produced healthy-looking plants all around his garden.

Bill Kramer lives a soul-honoring life in his beautiful Spanish Fort home as he grows his garden and shares nature through his art. He does not read newspapers or watch television news.

"I do love the friendliness of my neighbors and the laid-back atmosphere here," he says.

Bill has surely learned an important secret to contentment in this life, along with writer Albert Camus — "In the depths of winter, I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer."

With such bounty in a soul, gardens flourish and life flows on in its sweet way.

A gardening tip from Bill

"When planting a new plant, place it in the earth or container and water generously before adding in the soil instead of adding the soil and then watering. That way, no roots are exposed, and air pockets are avoided."