Some Thoughts on Garden Ornament

Nothing announces the mood or atmosphere of a garden more so than Garden Ornament.  Sure, you can plant an Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’ and a carpet of black mondo grass, but it’s really the stone lantern that declares:

“This Japanese Garden.  Please now be feeling sense of reverence and quiet awe.”

In the case of one of my neighbors, it’s the red Victorian gazing ball held aloft on the ears of three stone rabbits that announces:


I love all kinds of garden ornament, from dignified to kitsch, which is why I face a dilemma.  Since garden ornament tends to set the tone of the garden more so than any other individual garden element, there should be some sort of consistency among the pieces chosen.  An overall statement should be made.

Personally, I’m torn about which direction I want to go with ornament in my garden.  On the one hand, as I get older I find myself drawn to more dignified, classic pieces.  I love the idea of a stone column in my garden, surrounded by ferns and set off by evergreens…soothing, dignified, timeless.

But I also like this:

Gnome-B-Gone, by Fred Conlon

I mean, I know my garden is MINE, and I can do whatever I want with it, but I don’t want it to appear completely bipolar.

Luckily, there are some pieces of garden ornament that are more neutral and can fit into any scheme.  Most pots, for example, don’t hit you over the head with their personalities; they’re like the Zeligs of the garden and can blend into cottagy, modern, whimsical, or classic schemes.

This is why pots are all I have at the moment.  Pots and a couple of metal dragonflies hovering among my perennials. 

Perhaps my difficulty with garden ornament speaks to a larger problem with my sense of self.  My garden doesn’t really know what it is, therefore, perhaps I don’t really know who I am.  Should I wear floral scarves or chunky metal watches?  Should I try to do more serious writing or should I learn carpentry? Should I take a stand more often or just laugh stuff off and go with the flow?

Am I a stone column or a Gnome-B-Gone?