Sunday, February 26, 2012

Landscape Art - -Garden Ornament or Outdoor Tchotchke?

What type of art or sculpture should I use in my garden?

There's a place just off the highway near Reed City where the industrious proprietors spend the winter months carving out wooden garden art with a bandsaw. Silhouetted smoking cowboys languish against a tree near families of jumping frogs.The classic pair of backsides gaily greet passersby, with no extra charge for red polka dotted bloomers. 

Garden ornaments add a uniqueness of personality, sparkle and interest to the landscape.  The range of possibilites are limitless, from gnomes to ganders. What may be too fanciful for the interior of the home plays well in the yard.  Tucked away in a colorful perennial garden, surprises small and large can delight visitors, especially children. 

When art's intended as a garden focal point, here are some considerations:

1.  Site::   Pick an area of the yard which lacks other distraction. Imagine that the piece is the first thing visitors would see, then place the object in an area which will draw immediate attention, then compel the eye to sweep along the rest of the garden, to the next focal point.

2.   Size:   Place the item, then step back to the point where you'll first spot the piece.  Does it look proportionate to the surroundings?  Plants change in size, trees lose leaves, bulbs andbloom and go throughout the year so how will it compare two months to the giant coleus in August?  Think ahead.  Ask a spouse or other willing volunteer to stand in the spot for visualization.

3.   Color/texture:  What is compatible with the surrounding environment?  A white statue against a pale colored home won't pop.  What other items are in the yard.  Mossy verde pieces clash with stark
white if in the same frame.  Try to keep it compatible.

4.   Simplicity:  Don't compete with Mother Nature.  Chose a piece that is simple and elegant.  Statuary, sculpture, stonework, structure.  A stack of flat stones in diminishing size or a soft piece of driftwood are natural alternatives. 

5.   Seasonal:  Change pieces with the season.  Snowmen, Santas, metal birds, are fun to see off season, but only occasionally unless the handle "eccentric" doesn't bother you. 

6.  Location, location, location:  A dramatic piececan be artfully perched at the end of a pathway or in clear view of the dining table.  A favorite urn in view of the kitchen window aligns the eye and adds
interest. 

The lovely part of garden ornaments is they lack permanence.  They can be moved if the landscape changes or the piece simply become boring.  Today's urethane replicates yesterday's limestone, but is far easier on the lower back.


For those who like to avoid the landfill, one of my favorite pieces was found at the curb.  A broken fountain now operates as a bird bath and drinking fountain for itinerant wildlife.  Still, be careful not to overdo...

Remember, the idea is to enhance, not eclipse the real stars of the show.

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Container Gardens -- Pots on the Spot!