A garden full of beautiful plants artfully
arranged can bring years or even decades of pleasure.
But often what makes a good garden great is
the inclusion of user friendly touches like decks, pathways and ornaments that
make it easy to enjoy.
If you want to use ornaments to personalise
your outdoor space, there is no shortage of inspiration anywhere you look.
Recall the famed hanging gardens of
Babylon? They are no outlier of history as the ancient peoples of the Near
East, Egypt, China, Greece and India all loved their gardens, which archaeologists
are still discovering to this day. They featured pools, terraces, and
fountains, as well as statues and other ornaments.
You can take inspiration from more recent
gardens as well. For example, throughout its labyrinthine grounds, the
delightful late-mediaeval Alhambra gardens built by the Moors in Granada,
Spain, take the term water feature to mythic levels and the innovative use of
rocks in Chinese gardens of the Yuan dynasty inspired amazing pond designs.
The gardens of Italian Renaissance, like
the famed Boboli gardens in Florence and the Villa d’Este outside Rome, were
designed to feature, in the words of Leon Battista Alberti, “Porticos for
giving shade, planters where vines can climb, placed on marble columns; vases
and amusing statues, provided they are not obscene.” You may not be surprised that these gardens
were themselves inspired by descriptions of ancient Roman villas.
The 18th Century park style English gardens
made famous by the likes of Capability Brown were inspired by the art of Romantic
period landscape painters. The major focal points of these wild-looking, yet
meticulously planned gardens were faux-antique statues, lakes and follies made
to look like ancient Roman ruins.
We’ll be the first to admit that today’s
garden designers contemplating the inclusion of ornaments recognise they are
fraught with negative connotations spawned in the modern age. Who can think of
the much maligned armies of red-hatted gnomes and the statuary extravaganza on
display in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding without at least a slight wince?
But used the right way they can add delight
and interest to even the most staid garden.
The great thing about ornaments is that as
your tastes change, so can they. They can be used to add colour to a dull
corner, or to calm down a riotous border.
Just pick a design ethos that inspires
(modern, classical, minimalist, quirky, spiritual) and away you go.
Start from simple
“Ornaments can be an intricate part of the garden, you can design around them,” says
Heinrich Lindhart of Power Flower, whose own garden holds extensive water
features, a portly Buddha statue and many artfully arranged containers.
Commonplace ornaments to consider include
bird baths and sundials, which create interest and require little effort.
However, in Cayman and elsewhere where
mosquitoes proliferate, it’s essential to clean out birdbaths every day to
inhibit the growth of mosquito larvae, but a well-tended bath will add an
element of beauty and attract feathered visitors to what may otherwise be a
A simple stone wall, bench, or trough
provides an attractive way to divide up space low to the ground without
interrupting the overall vista.
“Adding ornaments looks great and you can
use them on surfaces where you can’t plant like hard surfaces or difficult
areas of the garden,” says Lindhart.
“Use them in entryways, on walkways and
pool decks, for example.”
Other simple garden ornaments that make a
big impact include benches, arbours and pools.
If simple’s not your thing, try repurposing
old metal furniture like baker’s racks, cabooses, wagons, farm implements and
old bed frames for a quirky touch.
Containers let you mix it up
Decorative planters, and if you want to go
more elaborate, stone and terracotta urns, provide innovative ways to show off
your plants. They can even be used as design elements on their own.
While the art of container gardening is a
discipline unto itself, it’s worth noting that besides providing an attractive
accent to a garden, containers are useful for many reasons.
“Containers allow you to comfortably use
plants with invasive root systems,” says Lindhart.
“They are also good if you want to control
the size of a plant.”
Potted plants can be moved indoors in case
of a storm and they are convenient if you move, as you can easily take your
plants with you.
Some fruit trees, for example citrus
plants, as evidenced in Versailles’ famous Orangerie, grow very well in
“Providing a proper match between a
container and a plant is key,” says Lindhart.
“And when fertilizing, you need to
fertilize around the crown of the plant not the trunk or stem, as smaller roots
that spread out are the ones collecting nutrients.
He also notes containers can make great
“You fill them with water and aquatic
plants and there you go,” he says.