Over the years I’ve learned a lot about gardening by going on garden tours, and analyzing what I was looking at. I figured out mass versus specimen planting, noticed and discovered that plants had different shaped leaves, realized a garden was not just green, but was made up of many different colors of foliage, and staggering plant heights was an important thing to do. I also realized evergreens were the true year round foundation of a zone 5-4 garden like mine in upstate New York.
After discovering all that, I finally opened my eyes to garden ornaments. Garden ornaments are like the accessories; a pair of earrings, bracelet, necklace, purse and shoes that add sparkle to that little black dress for a lady, making it shine, or for a man how that smart tie, pocket square, fun socks, polished shoes and watch set off his suit.
Personal style is really about the accessories that elevate an outfit and give it a certain specialness; the same applies to garden ornaments placed on your property.
Garden ornaments come in many price points, materials and styled. You can assemble a collection of roots, wiring them together and hanging them up for nothing (illustration to follow), or you can go out and spend thousands if you like. When it comes to garden ornaments, it’s not about price but how you imaginatively place things on your land.
Most garden ornaments are made of wood, stone or metal. Things can be colorful, if you want them to be focal points, or rust toned, black, cement gray or possibly dark green if you want them to be less noticeable. Garden ornaments can be found at garden centers, plant sales put on by garden clubs and botanical gardens, at hobby and craft stores, as well as junk stores, craft fairs, antique stores, black smith shops and big box discount stores to name a few.
My collection of garden ornaments is diverse. I have collected pieces both high and low-end (price). I have a hand-made black smith piece right up next to a mass-produced thing that was found at a country craft fair.
Not all of my finds have been just the right color when found; but with a couple of coats of Rust-Oleum paint they fit in with my garden’s color scheme.
When picking garden ornaments for your property you want to get things that go with your garden’s color scheme so they enhance the visual picture you are making, not take away from it. In my own garden, here at Whimsey Hill House, I have things that are mostly rust toned, wood or painted black or dark green. I also have some colored pieces that I’ve painted a bright sun yellow. Those sun yellow elements are scattered sparingly across my property, but most important of all, they go with all the different yellow flowers that bloom in my garden from Spring to Fall. Those large yellow elements (trellises, towers, tuteurs, and columns, etc), help to punctuate the garden do to their sheer size and color, but they also go with what I’ve planted.
Now let’s look at some photos of different garden ornaments that I have placed in my garden, or others that I’ve photographed on garden tours that might get you thinking and inspire you.
When placing ornaments in your garden, the most important thing to think about is less is more. You want to place them not so close together that you see them all at once. Think of your garden ornaments as a focal point here and there, or something that punctuates a space and is a possible visual surprise.
Garden gnomes are one of those things that are either loved or hated. If you are siting one of them, place him / her in a clump of foliage, so when spotted, the gnome looks like it is peaking out at you and hiding a bit from you behind / under a bush or tallish flowering plant.
Having different sizes of garden ornaments is a must for visual interest. Look for things that are ground hugging, some that are 3′ to 4 feet tall, and here and there go for the big pieces that can be 6′, 7′ or even 8 foot tall.
Balance is something to consider when siting garden ornaments. A garden bench placed on one side of your lawn (let’s say south side), could possibly be counter balanced by a large urn on pedestal placed directly across from it (on the north side).
When purchasing decorations for around your home and garden take into consideration what style of house you live in. As pretty / attractive a Venus de Milo statue might be and add to the look of an Italian villa or classical styled house or garden, it might look way out of place stuck on the lawn of a cape cod, ranch or bungalow styled house.
As I said before, I have some yellow painted ornaments on my property. They are sparingly placed on the south, west and north sides of the back garden. With a color like bright yellow, you want it in multiple places so the eye doesn’t land on one yellow painted object and stops. You want multiple yellow things, of different sizes, to keep the eye moving from one yellow spot to another, as it works across the garden.
Amassing a collection of garden ornaments does not happen over night, no matter how rich you are. Sometimes things come your way quickly, other times things don’t attract you at all. When buying garden ornaments only buy things that smile at you and say to you “bring me home“. Before buying any decorations, ask yourself first, where exactly will you place it? Don’t fall into the trap of saying to yourself “I’ll find a place for it“. I’ve bought garden ornaments with a plan in my mind’s eye of using them in a certain place, but when I stuck them there, they did not exactly work. I had to walk those ornaments around my land until I found a place for them to finally be placed. Those pieces were meant for me, but not supposed to be where I initially thought I would place them.
Finally, if you are one of those people who want to have what is hot and trendy at the moment, seen in the chicest gardens and on the great estates, I’ve come up with a list of ten garden decorations you need to amass….1 a stone sphere, 2 a garden bench or pair of chairs, 3 a large urn (preferably on pedestal), 4 a pyramidal tuteur, 5 a fancy metal or wood trellis, 6 some kind of architectural fragment, 7 a statue of a person (head of a person also acceptable), 8 some kind of fountain or bird bath, 9 some kind of free standing garden ornament made of rusty iron, and 10 an animal made of stone, metal or cement.
Now after reading this post, I want you to go on garden tours or page through garden magazines and look at the different decorations people put in their gardens. When I first came across garden decorations, a lot of it looked like a bunch of junk, but when seen sited in the right locations, the trash becomes a gardening treasure.
When designing a Shade Garden, think Focal Point, Plant Color and Shapes of Leaves 9-4-2011,
THIRTEEN Ideas for Decorating your Country Garden 7-20-2013,
Designing / Laying out Flower Beds 5-4-2013,
Plant a Garden Room on your Property 2-17-2013,
Al Fresco (Outdoor) Dining..Two cafe/bistro-patio tables EQUAL one Picnic Table 5-22-2012,
Siting a Garden Shed on your Property 6-9-2012,
Designing a Rock Garden with Different Sizes of Stones 6-28-2012