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Garden Ornaments and Totems

Updated on April 21, 2012
Garden decor is very popular!
Garden decor is very popular!

Garden Decor

I’m sure you’re familiar with garden ornaments. If you don’t have one or two in your own yard or garden, you’ve most likely seen examples of garden art in your neighborhood or community. Garden décor comes in all shapes, sizes, and styles, and it might be constructed from just about anything. In fact, some garden ornaments are natural and aren’t man-made. Some of examples of this type of garden décor might include driftwood, cypress knees, or large seashells. Man-made garden art might include garden statues, garden sculptures, and garden ornaments made of stone, cement, ceramic, treated wood, plastic, PVC, tile, or resin. Metal garden art is also popular. The newest members of the garden décor family are totems. I’d never seen garden totems until a friend received one as a gift, and I was intrigued, so I began shopping for them. My favorites are the glass totems, which remind me of a stained-glass church window. Actually, glass garden totems are hard to find in my area, so I decided I’d make my own!

Glass garden totems are easy to make.
Glass garden totems are easy to make.

What are Glass Garden Totems?

Glass garden totems are columns of assembled items that have been stacked on top of each other. The totems I prefer are made from glass items. Recycled items and found glass are the materials I prefer. I find these around the house, in dollar stores, and in thrift shops. In my opinion, the best garden totems include a good mixture of flat pieces, round pieces, and tall pieces. Flat pieces include plates, trays, and saucers, while round pieces are often fish bowls. Taller items include candle holders, hurricane lamp globes, vases, wine glasses, and parfait glasses. Of course, these are just some of the pieces you can use to make garden totems. The list is practically endless!

Make garden totems a section at a time, with two or three pieces.
Make garden totems a section at a time, with two or three pieces.
I used a lighthouse and glass gemstones in the base of the totem.
I used a lighthouse and glass gemstones in the base of the totem.

How to Make Glass Garden Totems

First, of course, you’ll need to find and acquire your glass pieces. You’ll need a wide piece for the bottom. The broader your base is, the more stable the totem will be. The totem will also be more stable if you place several flatter pieces in it, one between each round or tall piece or two. Arrange your pieces by stacking them. Play around some with this before deciding on the definite placement.

There’s another reason I like to use several flat pieces in my glass totems: The plates, trays, and shallow bowls can be used to hold bird seed. That way, my garden art is both attractive and functional!

You might also want to think about filling some of the pieces with small fake birds, fake butterflies, feathers, marbles, stones, seashells, or silk flowers. Use E6000 glue to join the pieces together. It’s best if you take your time building your garden totem. E6000 takes a pretty long time to dry, so you might want to complete your totem one or two levels at the time, allowing time for the glue to dry between additions. Drying time will depend on heat and humidity.

Once you’ve assembled your totem, allow the entire sculpture to dry overnight. Test it slightly to make sure all the joints are secure. Once you decide where the totem will go, level the spot. Remember, glass garden totems are fragile, so they need a level place on which to stand.

Glass garden totems:

ceramic garden sculpture
ceramic garden sculpture
garden statuary
garden statuary

Garden Statuary – Garden Sculpture

Garden statuary can be used in the most informal garden to the sprawling, manicured gardens that surround mansions and estates. There’s a fair amount of debate among garden sculpture, garden statues and ornaments. Statues are usually large pieces, usually of humans or animals. Garden ornaments, however, are usually smaller and might be representational of nature, nonrepresentational, or abstract. The term “sculpture” once meant a three-dimensional work of art that was created by the hand of the artist. Today, however, garden sculpture is much more loosely used and can refer to handmade items and to items made from molds in factories.

Garden statues and ornaments vary greatly in price. We have a friend who imported some garden statuary from Italy, and it was extremely expensive. These particular garden statues are of four goddesses, and each one is over five feet tall. On the other hand, you can usually find small garden statues and ornaments for under $20.

metal garden art
metal garden art
metal sun dial
metal sun dial

Metal Garden Art

Metal garden art includes hand-crafted metal sculptures and pieces that are mass produced. Metal garden art might be made of iron, copper, brass, steel, or bronze. Some metal sculptures are crafted completely of metal wire, too. The metal sculptures can be covered with a powder coating to prevent rusting, or they can be left to age naturally. Some metals, especially bronze, copper, and brass, will form a greenish patina when exposed to the weather. This patina, called “verdigris,” is attractive to many people.

Like other types of garden décor, metal garden art can be found in many different sizes and themes. These might include sun dials, whimsical animals, sunbursts, flowers, dragonflies, butterflies, chickens, turtles, frogs, snails, birds, or other natural shapes. They might also be found in geometric shapes or in free-form sculptures.

Bird Girl
Bird Girl | Source
Impressive garden statuary is appropriate for this large formal garden.
Impressive garden statuary is appropriate for this large formal garden. | Source

The Best Garden Statues and Ornaments

The best garden statues and ornaments for your garden are the ones in keeping with the size, scope, and theme of your garden. You’ll probably want your garden art to be a reflection of your home, too. In other words, if you live in a rustic cabin and have a small natural garden, you probably wouldn’t want large, formal garden statuary. In a formal English garden, however, expensive garden statuary might be completely appropriate.

What theme do you want to convey with your garden art? If you like whimsy, you might enjoy having gnomes, Disney characters, or cartoon figures as garden décor. I’ve even seen zombie garden statues! The zombies appear to be digging themselves out of their garden graves. If you’re more traditional, a sun dial or gazing ball might work best. If your style is more avant garde, you might enjoy some abstract metal garden sculptures. For a rustic garden, rough wooden carvings of forest animals might be the best way to go. If you want your garden décor to have a mystical quality, you might prefer fairy figurines, crystals, unicorns, elves, and mushrooms. For a more natural “feel,” you might like garden ornaments that look like real animals: rabbits, squirrels, snails, turtles, frogs, etc. If you have a tropical garden, tiki totems or tiki totem poles would be fascinating additions.

Some of the most popular garden statues are representations of Christ, St. Francis, Mary, angels, cherubs, and children. One example of garden statuary that’s very popular in the Southeast is the Savannah Bird Girl. The bronze figure stands over four feet tall, and only four castings were made, originally. One was placed in Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery, and it became famous after the release of the hit movie and book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, in which the statue appeared. You can see many examples of garden decor based on the Bird Girl - all over the South.

Cheap garden art:

Garden art pole

What's your favorite type of garden decor?

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    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Good ideas! Making functional art out of found materials is fun, and the garden allows us to display it for the enjoyment of others. Thank you!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      Wow, I would definitely like to have a garden with stuff like those. They are beautiful.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, garage!

      mts, so good to see you again! Would you like to come over and work in my yard?? lol

    • profile image

      mts1098 

      6 years ago

      Given that I just spent my morning cutting and shaping my lawn, including lantern ornaments, I had to come by and read this. I conclude that your hub pictures look better than my lawn so I will just look at this all day )

    • garage-remotes profile image

      Rob Reel 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      those garden statuaries are NICE. thanks for sharing your inspiration.

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