I know I’m not unique but I’m guessing I’m certainly not typical in my gardening passion. I started gardening as a freshman in high school, building gardens retaining walls, and eventually a waterfall and pond before graduating. One thing I haven’t done that really is a shame is incorporate garden art into my gardens. I’m missing a whole world of incorporating other artists creations into my garden. I always want to incorporate garden art with my landscape design clients, but for understandable reasons most people have trouble justifying spending even more money on garden art.
Plants and garden structures offer and endless opportunity to craft a landscape, but bringing some sort of garden art in to a garden increases the opportunities and tools you have to beautify your gardens. Depending on what art you bring into your garden you may have a great opportunity by sculpting light to enhance your garden. It’s sad but so many people miss the opportunity to enjoy their gardens at night. The night offers a calmer setting to sit and relax. The dilemma is that you must have a reason to come out and enjoy the gardens at night. Lighting up a piece of art is a great reason to come out of your home and take an evening stroll through your gardens. Lighting garden art at night is liking getting twice the art for the same price. While you have limited control over how the light during the day illuminates your art, you have complete control how it is shown at night. You could choose to back light the art or down light it the options are vast. You can even use the light from a fire to dance all over your light with its red glow.
During the day you can use tree branches and arbors to filter the light the hit a piece of art in your garden. Can you picture a stone garden path in front of you leading you into a shade garden and at the end of the path there is a beautiful piece of art with the bright light of the day shining on it. By cutting the right branches in the tree above you can create an appealing contrast of light and darkness.
GARDEN ART MATERIALS
Wood, Stone, and Metal. There are some great options for materials when you’re looking to incorporate art in the garden. The three I mentioned before are my favorite materials to use because they can age with your garden and find a maturity you just can’t buy.
WOODEN GARDEN ART
When I think of wooden art used in the garden I think about the Adirondack chairs I picked out years ago and the drift wood I’ve collected over the years and placed in my garden. Watching wood age and color over the seasons really make it part of a garden. When I picked out my Adirondack chairs I spent months hunting down the exact style I wanted. I ended up ordering them from northern Canada and having them shipped to me in pieces. My father always mentions that they should be sealed and stained but I would have missed the beautiful gray color they became.
There are some amazing wooden arbors out there as well. I’ve always wanted to build one of these arbors built out of twigs and branches. Don’t get me wrong people create some amazing works with manufactured lumber but the imperfections of wood used in its natural state makes a garden seem more relaxing to me. The wood may rot and gray and some day you may need to replace it, but nothing in the garden is forever and most gardeners love a good project.
I think I may have to try my hand at building one of these this year. In fact maybe my fiancé and I can get married under it and then we can bring it back home for our garden. We’ll see if I can find the time, I’ll be sure to shoot some video if I do.
STONE GARDEN ART
I love stone art, just like wooden art it will age in the garden. Gray stone or concrete pieces will gain black spots and even moss at times. Weathered stone can really make a garden seem established and aged. Stone is a really diverse material when you look at all the shapes that can be found or created with it. I’ve found hundreds of large rocks that look great just the way I found them and are ready to be placed in a garden, but there are also amazing stone carving out there that really creative.
METAL GARDEN ART
Metal garden art may be the most diverse material found in the garden. I went to school in a small little town that house that was home to a world-famous artist who worked in wrought iron. Some of the fences and arbors he created where just stunning. Besides all the things you can make with metal you can also use found objects. I’m a garage sale and flea market junkie on the weekend when I’m not at the farm market or in my garden. When I’m at these sales I’m always looking for objects to incorporate in my yard. I’ve bought an old 5 gallon milk jug to build a water fountain, I’ve picked up an old kinked trumpet so I could set it in my garden and let metal patina over the years. I know this isn’t metal but I even picked up several sections of an old picket fence from the side of the road one time to used as a screen in my garden.
Garden art is such an underutilized feature in the gardeners tool bag of design. It’s also one the things that set an extraordinary garden apart from basic gardens. It’s design aspect that is so attainable by all gardeners too. You can spend a few thousand dollars on a piece of garden art or you can be like myself and spend a 20 spot on an old milk jug from a farm.
I would love to hear about how other gardeners use art in their gardens!