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Using Garden Ornaments To Accent Your Garden

Updated on July 1, 2012

It is funny that the most important aspect of our garden isn't always the plants but rather an ornamental or sculptural feature that transforms the garden from being just a group of plants to more of a personal statement about the creator of the garden.

An "accent" is defined as "A distinctive feature or quality, such as a feature that accentuates, contrasts with, or complements a decorative style". An accent is something that accentuates or contrasts something else, such as a touch of color, so that it makes the features of an image stand out.

Garden accents enhance our overall experience of the garden. They can be something as small as a stepping stone with your dog's paw prints imprinted on them to something much larger like a statue of St Francis of Assisi, nature's nurturer.

Using Garden Ornaments to Transform Your Garden

Ornaments in the garden can be used to add an element of fun, a sense of history, an air of the mysterious or a gentle calm depending on your personal style.

A garden can be a place to display our creativity and provides a wonderful backdrop for arts and crafts.

Willow figures and wire sculptures are popular and they have flowing lines which can bring a garden to life. Mosaics may be used as a decorative feature on pots or set into patios, garden walls or pools to bring vibrant colour into the garden. You might prefer to decorative with terracotta pots or a salvaged treasure such as an old livestock-watering trough or a bamboo tee pee covered in scarlet runner beans. A handful of shells, carried home from the beach and scattered in a flower bed, is an ornament.

Choosing A Garden Ornament

Think about how an ornament will look in it's garden setting, is it reassuring or will it's shape cause you to jump as it looms out of the mist or at dusk? Only choose images you like.

Objects placed in the garden should blend in with the overall design. We should be able to observe them one at a time, rather than all at once, which can confuse the eye.A single object at the end of a pathway will have a different effect than one which we happen to notice at a turn in the path. We should choose objects for the end of the pathway very carefully so we are not disappointed at the end of our journey.

If you stuck for inspiration, garden suppliers offer an excellent array of statuary making it possible to create anything from a Japanese garden, a historical garden, a Balinese garden or even a fantasy garden full or fairies. Consider your garden size and design when selecting a garden statue. Think about the proportion, style and materials. Is the statue the right size for my garden? Does it suit my garden style? Do the materials compliment the other features of my garden? Your ornament needs to blend in with its surroundings. Also consider the impact the ornament will have on you and your visitors subconsciously - in a positive or negative way.

Garden statues usually take the form of people, animals or fantasy creatures but they can also be abstract images of art work. When we use garden ornaments we need to feel comfortable with the images we have in our garden and we need to like the faces of the people or creatures they portray.

Statues of small children can be pleasing, but can make us feel sad if our own children have grown up and left home, or we are unable to have children. Statues of animals may be fun so long as they don't remind us in a negative way of pets that have died or they resemble species we don't like. Be aware of a statue's energy and the way it relates to its surroundings.

The Meaning of Common Garden Statues

Like poets who write between the lines, gardeners often call on symbolic meanings to add depth to the garden. Here are some common images and their symbolic meaning:

  • Acorn: Life, fertility and immortality
  • Cherub: Divine, wisdom
  • Horseman, equestrian: power, loyalty, bravery, and altruistism
  • Doves: Love and constancy
  • Lion: Strength, pride, courage and protection
  • Dog: Loyal, trustworthy, watchfulness, a guardian
  • Angels: Love, kindness and protection
  • Monkey: Man's folly
  • Serpents: service, wiseness, and negotiation,
  • Fruit: Abundance,autumn, harvest
  • Sundial: The fleeting nature of time
  • Crane: Long life, prosperity, happiness
  • Buddha: self-perfection, good fortune, inner peace, happiness
  • St Francis: patron saint of animals and the environment, peace, serenity

A Matter of Substance: Materials for Ornaments

The material of an ornament shapes its character over time. Stone, cast stone, wood and a variety of metals have all proved their worth over the centuries, lending their innate strength, weight and sense of permanence to flower beds and gardens across the world. Statues should be chosen to blend in with surroundings to both compliment and accent your garden.

Marble statues have been individually sculptured since the days of ancient Greece which makes each ornament slightly different from the next. Even today when you buy replicas of the classical statues like Venus de Milo they will vary in detail and proportion from one example to the next.

Limestone is warmer in tone than marble and without marble's polish, limestone is at home in cool or foggy climates. The more porous the limestone the more readily it will welcome the growth of mosses and lichens, adding a sense of antiquity in the garden

Cast stone began to replace real stone in the mid eighteenth century. Ornaments from cast stone can be moulded rather than carved so it was much cheaper then real stone to produce. Today's cast-stone statues. stepping stones, bird baths and fountains are largely cement based but good pieces have a natural stone-like finish and colour.

Try to avoid unblemished grey concrete as it is not that aesthetically pleasing until it has aged and weathered. Also brilliantly white statues can have a very harsh appearance and do not age well.

The most familiar form of terracotta to gardeners is the simple garden pot, made from fired red clay. Terracotta pots, cloaked in moss and overflowing with flowers are a timeless favourite that makes a garden feel like home.

Polyresin is popular modern material for garden ornaments.There is a blend of polyresin that includes ground stone material in the mix. Polyresin garden products are lightweight and easy to move around your garden. They tend to be much less expensive than ornaments made from the more traditional materials and natural stones.

Your Own Style

The sculptures and furnishings you choose for your garden brings life and personality to the space. Chosing garden ornaments is highly personal but it is exactly this expression of individuality that sets one garden apart from another. Don't be afraid to experiment. Move your ornaments around. Go shopping for that one unique piece or try creating some of your own garden accents. Make way for whim and fancy and go outside to play!


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    • Gargoyle-statues profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thank you. I love to see how other people use accents and, of course, incorporate some of my own :)

    • mecheshier profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice Hub. Some fabulous ideas for the garden. Accents are always wonderful. Thank you for sharing. Voted up for useful.


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