Our garden has made great progress in the last few years, but its appeal rests almost entirely on the plants we’ve chosen and the way we’ve combined them. One major frontier remains largely unexplored: garden ornaments, or yard art.
Last year we added a few Asian-themed ornaments, but other than that I had always thought our garden would look better unadorned.
|Granite lantern in the Koyabu style|
|Cast-concrete Guanyin head|
|Craftsman style granite lantern next to Fargesia robusta|
However, the more gardens I visit—either in person or on the web—the more curious I become about the possibilities of giving our garden a unique character through ornaments.
While I have a soft spot for whimsy and kitsch, such as the cow and mannequin at Annie’s Annuals in Richmond, CA, they wouldn’t feel right in our garden even if we had the room.
|Cow at Annie’s Annuals|
|Life-size mannequin at Annie’s Annuals|
The space that has provided the most inspiration is Mark and Gaz’s garden at Alternative Eden. Their choice of décor is elegant, exotic, and timeless, and it strikes the right balance between not enough and too much. Check out these vignettes to see what I mean: 1 2 3.
However, I must admit that I don’t possess the innate sense of taste and design that Mark and Gaz do. I greatly admire their garden but I’m not sure I would be able to come up with something so cohesive—and what works in their garden may not work in ours. My inherent sense of style is more along the line of Matthew Levesque, although not quite as creative.
With ample time and an unlimited budget it would be relatively easy to go out and buy all the things that strike your fancy, but we have neither so we’re adding pieces as we come across them and can afford them.
Earlier this year we bought a few pieces of Haitian metal art made from oil drums that I’m very fond of. Just a couple of days ago I moved them from their old spot against the fence and hung them from the trunks of our bay trees. I love the almost monochromatic look of silver on silver, yet I think that they stick out enough to be noticeable without being in your face.
|Haitian metal art|
|Haitian metal art|
We just started to explore garage sales as potential sources for yard art. On Saturday we found two wooden masks ($7 for both!) which, while not made for outside display, are OK during the dry months of the year. I’m a bit of a sucker for ethnic masks (I have three in my office) so these appealed to me right away.
One is a Maya-inspired piece that for now is hanging on the fence between some potted bamboos. I’m not 100% sure that it’s right for this location, but I’ll give it a try for a while.
|Mayan warrior shield (?)|
|Mayan warrior shield and Haitian metal art|
The other mask is a rather forbidding looking demon that looks good matched by the dark culms of a black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra).
|Chinese (?) mask next to black bamboo|
Time will tell whether these ornaments work or not in our garden. Since we have two active kids (10 and 13) and an equally active dog, it’s not a good idea buying fragile pieces of pottery because the odds of them being broken is high. But I’ll keep my eyes open for new finds, and if past history is any indication, something will smack me in the face (figuratively, hopefully) when I least expect it.