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Garden Design

Garden ornament

Mary Gray

Mary Gray

July 10, 2012

Nothing announces the mood or atmosphere of a garden more so than Garden Ornament. Sure, you can plant an Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’ and a carpet of black mondo grass, but it’s really the stone lantern that declares:This Japanese Garden. Please now be feeling sense of reverence and quiet awe.”

In the case of one of my neighbors, it’s the red Victorian gazing ball held aloft on the ears of three stone rabbits that announces:


I love all kinds of garden ornament, from dignified to kitsch, which is why I face a dilemma.  Since garden ornament tends to set the tone of the garden more so than any other individual garden element, there should be some sort of consistency among the pieces chosen. An overall statement should be made.

Personally, I’m torn about which direction I want to go with ornament in my garden. On the one hand, as I get older I find myself drawn to more dignified, classic pieces. I love the idea of a stone column in my garden, surrounded by ferns and set off by evergreens…soothing, dignified, timeless.


But I also like this:

I mean, I know my garden is MINE, and I can do whatever I want with it, but I don’t want it to appear completely bipolar.

Luckily, there are some pieces of garden ornament that are more neutral and can fit into any scheme. Most pots, for example, don’t hit you over the head with their personalities; they’re like the Zeligs of the garden and can blend into cottagy, modern, whimsical, or classic schemes.

This is why pots are all I have at the moment.  Pots and a couple of metal dragonflies hovering among my perennials.

Perhaps my difficulty with garden ornament speaks to a larger problem with my sense of self. My garden doesn’t really know what it is, therefore, perhaps I don’t really know who I am. Should I wear floral scarves or chunky metal watches? Should I try to do more serious writing or should I learn carpentry? Should I take a stand more often or just laugh stuff off and go with the flow?


Am I a stone column or a Gnome-B-Gone?

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12 years ago

Lovely post Mary! I think you could have different moods in different parts of the garden – why be limited to one theme? Why not have a classic column corner and a quirky gnome hiding somewhere else? And wear jewellery to suit your mood on any given day, with wild variations, so that no-one can predict your next move?
Prance one day, contemplate classically the next? Sounds good to me!

12 years ago

Haha. I have a large black terracotta water bowl, which I put on a sort of homemade plinth of local stone. Yes, I know. It looks horribly, horribly wrong, not least because, from certain angles, a nearby stringybark looks as if it’s growing out of it. Not good. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I have a bursting big pot of black liriope, ideal to be divided, that will set it off nicely… or not. Design is not my strength and I’m going to post a picture later in my blog and beg for help!

11 years ago

I too am a tad multi-mooded in the garden, but like to think that’s just my eager-to-please nature. I want all types to be comfortable and don’t want to hurt any living thing’s feelings by leaving them out. Wish I could be a more “hort couture” than “garden variety” stylist , but every day the light, conditions and visitors to my garden vary, so why shouldn’t it?