With the possible exception of the plants you choose, there are few elements in the garden which offer quite so much scope for an expression of individuality as ornaments – and it is not just about what pieces you have. Using ornaments for dramatic effect – making them a dynamic, functional element of the overall vista – can have a huge impact. How and where you place them, how they relate to the wider design and what purpose they fulfil in the landscape can all alter the overall feel of your garden and affect the way a visitor will see it.
Moreover, carefully selected ornaments can also provide the perfect excuse to experiment with introducing three-dimensional art works or interesting shapes and textures to the garden as a way of generating some all-year round interest, especially in “difficult” corners.
With personal taste high on the list as the essence of using ornaments, there can be few hard and fast rules, though effective ornamentation can benefit from a few general guidelines.
Adding An Extra Dimension
Adding a well chosen and carefully placed ornament can add a new dimension to a garden, enhancing the look of the overall style and drawing together the whole design by giving the viewer a focal point. In some cases this can even allow apparently unconnected aspects of a plot to come together in a completely new way. With this in mind, unless you are deliberately setting out to create a contrast, choose ornaments which complement the overall picture you are trying to create.
Although the ornament is a separate piece, if it is going to work well in the garden, it needs to fit in with the general style of the garden itself and this is particularly important if you are planning to use a number of ornaments. You can adopt a mix and match approach, with classical statues in sight of modern abstract and Japanese pieces, but it can take some pulling off – unless you really have an instinctive feel for these things, in which case you don’t really need to be reading this advice anyway!
Whatever style you do opt for, it is worth remembering that too many ornaments may simply confuse rather than improve, so don’t overdo it. Give the eye something to be drawn to, not so much that it doesn’t know where to look – and remember that effective lighting can keep the impact after dark.
Of course, ornaments don’t have to be simply ornamental; they can be functional too. Planters and containers, for instance, are seldom chosen simply for their ability to hold compost and the many different kinds available – both old and new – means that there is something suitable for every style of garden design. As a means of integrating the ornamental with the growing environment, not much comes close to a well planted “statement” container garden.
If ever there was a feature designed to be home to an ornament, it must be the water garden. Whether a statue forming the centre-piece fountain of a pond or as entirely self-contained water features in their own right, a trip to any decent-sized garden centre will have you spoilt for choice in moments. There is something quite captivating about the reflection of stonework and incorporating ornaments with moving water – whatever design you choose – is guaranteed to have an instant effect.
To use ornaments well, bear in mind that most of the key to any kind of landscaping is to control the scene. Any statues, pots or sculpture you introduce should add something to the design; it should improve the overall look and make it visually stronger, to the extent that if it were to be taken away, the feel of the garden would suffer.
As well as bringing height, form and interest, ornaments are signposts in the garden landscape, encouraging the eye to dwell on a particular sight or effect. Whether it’s a quirky gnome to raise a smile, or a beautiful Roman vase, ornaments can have a huge bearing on the overall drama of the whole garden.