When I think of art in the garden, it brings to mind the marble sculptures of classic landscapes like those seen in movies. As lovely as the toga clad damsels are at the Palace of Versailles they really, and I mean really don’t fit my middle-class suburban home. At the other end of the spectrum are the garden gnome and metal frog spitting into a pond. If you are like me your tastes probably lay somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
Thankfully there are many options for artwork and sculpture, so many options that, at times it can be a bit of a challenge to figure out where these items might fit in the landscape. To help with ideas I put together a list of the 5 ways to add art to any garden.
ART AS A FOCAL POINT
This is the most often used and easiest way to place art in the garden. Select a site line, like the view at the end of a garden path. These bold pieces also fit at a central spot in the middle of a courtyard or at key points in the main planted bed of a yard. That seems easy enough but be sure the piece you select is scaled appropriately for the space. It can not be so large that it overwhelms the space or so small that it gets lost. This sundial by David Harber is a perfect example of balanced scale for a statement art piece in the landscape. At approximately 3 feet high the size works well with the standard 4 to 6 foot shrubs and privacy fence.
At the other end of the spectrum from those centrally located, standout art pieces are the hidden gems. Those pieces of art that are tucked into the landscape. Whenever possible in landscapes I design, I like to include a few harder to find elements in the garden. Sometimes it is a hidden bench for reading or a water feature that is off the main path. Art can be treated the same way and placed in unexpected locations like the rabbit sculpture pictured below. Some of the most interesting elements of a garden can be the ones that take a little exploring to find.
If you are like me, with a tiny garden (any balcony landscapers out there?) you might not have a lot of room but that doesn’t mean there is no place for art. Chances are there is a blank wall that could use some artistic love. One of my favorite pieces right now is the butterfly panel from Frontgate pictured below. When making a decision about what to add, you still have to keep the scale of the art in mind. It needs to be able to hold its own as a stand alone piece or group well with other complementary pieces. This is much like what you would consider when arranging art on your living room wall.
So many times when I visit a property to discuss the options for the landscape one of the items I am asked for help with is a massive window that looks out directly to a wall or fence. This might seem like wasted space but it can be a real opportunity. With Creeping Fig or other evergreen vine on the fence, you can create the perfect backdrop for a piece of art. Depending on the space available it can either be freestanding or a panel that attaches directly to the fence.
Not all of the artful elements in the garden are art in the traditional sense. Those beautiful bird houses and water features are just as much a work of art as the purposefully placed sculpture. As you wander that trade day market or scan the options on Etsy, be sure to keep in mind your landscape style. Is it all clean lines and modern or more cottage like? Is it full of neutral tones or bold and bright? Either way you’ll want any new addition to fit your garden style.
Adding art to the garden gives it that extra layer of detail that really make the space special. In the process of picking the right piece for your particular spot in the garden you create a memory and truly make the space your own.
Have you found the perfect spot for art in your garden? Send me a photo or share your idea in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.