Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Garden ornaments - tasteful or tacky?

One thing that seems to divide opinion more than any other garden topic is whether a garden should have ornaments in it. There is a perception that they are necessarily tacky and must be avoided.
A glass candle holder brought home from a visit to America

I think ornaments can add structure and personality to a garden. If you have ornaments in your house, why not have them in your garden?

One of the inanimate frogs that live by our pond

Two ceramic shoes planted with an alpine. You can't tell but they are both for the right foot!

An appropriate sign that hangs over the compost heap
We recently visited Prince Charles' garden at Highgrove and it is full of gifts that he has received and artifacts that he has collected on his travels. These ornaments enhance the wonderful relaxed planting and make the garden feel very personal. If garden ornaments are good enough for royalty then they are good enough for us!
The fairy that sits at the top of our stream

Many of our visitors enjoy the quirky touches in the garden. You have to look carefully to find most of them, but we seem to have quite a managerie!
An Indian Runner duck
A lizard left behind by the children who used to live here. He seems quite at home in the bird bath.

Crazy-eyed cat
Our cat and mouse weather vane
When we tell people that we have armchairs, a fireplace and a TV in an outdoor lounge they generally aren't quite sure what to think, but it's the most popular spot in the garden to sit. The armchairs are plastic, the fireplace contains a daphne rather than a fire, and the TV is an old one planted with a heuchera, but it is a lovely place to relax and look over the garden in an evening with a glass of wine. The perfect garden room.
The outdoor lounge
The fireplace with clematis spilling over it
If you are struggling to find something that will flower in a very shady corner, why not try hanging something colourful or interesting to attract the eye?

Probably the most controversial garden ornament is the gnome. We have one that was left here by a previous owner and it seemed rude to evict him. He is secreted in the ferns at the top of the garden, keeping a watchful eye over everyone who walks over the little bridge at the top of the stream.
Our gnome
Also of interest in the garden at the moment - our new tree fern to add to our collection of dramatic shade-loving plants.
Planting the new tree fern

Tree ferns in the background, with the giant leaves of Tetrapanax papyrifer Rex to the right, and Schefflera rhododendrifolia to the left

Our to-do list

Seed cleaning - many of the seeds that I have collected are now dry and need separating from their seed casings in readiness for sowing.

Harvesting vegetables - the recent lack of sunshine has delayed the tomatoes ripening, but beetroot, carrots and courgettes are ready to pick.

Planning our dates to open for the NGS in 2016 - your garden doesn't have to be huge or professionally designed to open for the NGS. People love visiting ordinary gardens to get inspiration for what they can do at home. Contact your local NGS to find out more - it is very rewarding.

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