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Hard Landscape : Garden Ornaments

Sculpture | Garden Seats

A wide range of objects from high-quality sculpture to simple containers bring enormous interest to the garden. Objects such as statues, modern sculpture, sundials, armilaries (as shown), seats, urns, wind chimes and even simple groups of nicely shaped rocks can be used in strategic places to add an extra dimension.

Planters, urns and boxes filled with well-chosen plants are a delightful feature. They focus attention on the plants, and if they are good quality, the container is an ornament in itself.

Good quality containers are usually expensive because they are made of stone, lead, hardwood, cast iron, clay. While these improve with age, containers of poorer quality materials deteriorate. Well-made concrete containers can be very good, suitable for modern style gardens.

Position containers carefully where they will make most impact, but out of the way of people passing. They can be moved around to find the right spot. Always place containers on a flat, hard surface – paving, walls, steps.

Grass and gravel surfaces are too uneven, and the fussy texture of those surfaces close to does not set off the container well. However, containers are especially attractive when viewed with a stretch of grass or gravel in the foreground or background.


Statues, figures, and other objects in stone, marble, metal and good quality concrete are tremendously effective in the garden. They can be used to draw attention to an area, or to divert it from a negative aspect of the garden. Placed at a distance, sculpture emphasises space; placed fairly close, it shortens distance.

Sculpture can be positioned at the end of paths, or on a stand or plinth, to draw attention to it. It can also be tucked away amid plants to create a surprise, a strong contrast, or the impression of maturity.

The number of objects used should be limited depending on the size and layout of the garden. A small garden that is divided into several areas and has lots of nooks and crannies will justify more placements than a large garden of open layout. The size of objects and their style should be appropriate. Old gardens do not receive modern sculpture happily.

‘Sculpture’ need not be expensive to be effective. An interesting log, rock, piece of cut stone, group of rounded stones, or arrangement of bricks – any of these can be used successfully as ‘natural’ sculpture. They must be of interesting materials, and they must ‘fit’. Old wheelbarrows, pots, kettles, sinks, tyres and such like are not suitable!

Garden Seats

The provision of seating has a practical as well as an ornamental value. The points made about using sculpture also apply to seats. A seat is best set on a path or hard standing of some sort. The exception would be in a woodland setting where too permanent a fixture might look out of place. An iron or wooden seat placed on a lawn is always in the way of mowing!


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