What do you think about garden sculpture and ornaments?

Posted By: Alexandra Campbell On: March 19th, 2017 In: Garden style & living, Garden travel, Garden trends & design, Town gardens

People with middle-sized gardens used to worry about garden sculpture and ornaments. They seemed too close to garden gnomes.

As children, we loved peering into front gardens to see a few brightly coloured stone gnomes fishing in a miniature concrete pond. But there were always snorts of disapproval or mirth from the grown-ups behind us.

And a favourite prank in my student days was to collect up the gnomes in one street and put them all in the same garden. It was done after the pubs shut, so the owner of one house would wake up in the morning to find a gnome party in his front garden. (We were rather short of things to do before the internet…)

Garden sculpture by Mary Anne Nicholson

Now garden gnomes are post-ironic, and garden sculpture has descended from the stately home. It has taken its place as a focal point, especially in smaller gardens.

Front garden sculpture in Tasmania

Garden sculpture – how much is too much?

Like all art, garden sculpture raises conflicting emotions. It’s very much a matter of personal taste. I remember feeling that one garden had ‘sculpture-itis’. Whenever you turned your head, you saw another miniature pagoda, buddha or dancing girl.

There was a sculpture at the top and bottom of every set of steps, and no vista was left empty of a suitably expensive ‘focal point’ or two.

Stone lion garden sculptures

And I’ve also seen some wonderful examples of groupings of garden sculpture that have given focus and structure to the plantings around them. So perhaps it’s just that one man’s sculptural meat is another’s poison…

People sculpture by Graeme Foote, Cloudehill, Olinda

This grouping of people by Graeme Foote is set in a simple meadow area outside the tea room at Cloudehill Gardens, near Olinda, Australia. It’s not entirely practical for a middle-sized garden, though it would give the neighbours something to talk about.

And for those who have a sloping bank where nothing much grows – perhaps garden sculpture would be the answer.

Graeme Foote's 'humanity' series
Single Graeme Foote sculpture 'humanity' series
Dancers garden sculpture

Pots as a garden sculpture

Empty pots – especially beautifully-made ones – straddle the line between art and practicality.

Urn left empty as garden sculpture
Garden ornaments in a pond at Cloudehill

Modern planting needs the structure of sculpture

Meadow sculpture by Paul Cummins at The Salutation

Today’s loose, informal planting looks wonderful with sculpture. I love the contrast of airy blocks of grasses and the clean lines of modern sculpture.

Contemporary garden sculpture at Sussex Prairie Gardens

Contemporary garden sculpture animals

From wire hens and hares to witty pigs and cows – even the smallest of gardens can manage a space for something. (A local front garden has got a particularly realistic steel cat which drives my dog absolutely frantic.)

Garden ornaments at RHS Chelsea
Sheep garden sculpture
Bird garden sculpture
Stone garden dogs

And this funky metal sheep is available here from Amazon…(affiliate link, which means that if you can click on it to buy. If you do, I may get a small fee.)

Garden sculpture to add year-round colour

If you have one of those kitchens with glass walls and doors, you can see your garden all year round. (Lucky you). You can add colour with garden sculpture, and it will stand you in good stead at dreary times of the year.

Use garden sculpture to add year-round colour to your garden

Water and garden sculpture go together well

It’s almost compulsory to have a sculpture somewhere around a garden pond. It ameliorates the flatness of the water.

Add garden sculpture to a pond

It didn’t start off as garden sculpture…

Some of my favourite garden ornaments have been re-purposed from something else:

Re-purposed garden sculpture
Tree trunk sculpture at Doddington Place Gardens

At Doddington Place Gardens there is one ‘sculpture’ which is a mass of twisted iron. It looks wonderfully contemporary, but it is actually a section of their park railings. Someone crashed a car into it, and the wreckage looks like a work of art. So it sits in one of the wilder parts of the garden.

And just to leave you with a few more of my favourite things (in garden sculpture)

Copper garden sculpture from Emily Stone
Emily Stone copper sculpture at the Salutation
Paul Cummins garden sculpture at the Salutation
Mirror garden sculpture

So what do you think? Do you love sculpture in gardens? Who’s your favourite garden artist?

There are more garden sculpture ideas here on The Middlesized Garden ‘Garden Sculpture’ Pinterest board.

And to see more of the outstandingly beautiful Cloudehill Gardens, check out this Youtube video here (it’s got some lovely inspiration for our own gardens here in the UK, or even if you garden anywhere in the Northern hemisphere.)

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