Sunday, March 18, 2012

Art in the Garden

Who can resist? The glass wind chimes in the
container garden design are lovely too!
Photo, design and proud  Grandma;
Alyson Ross-Markley

I have to confess that I have been known to buy an entire new outfit simply to go with a lovely piece of jewelry I received! It's rather an extravagance I know but also lots of fun. The usual approach of course is to get dressed first and then scan my jewelry box for the perfect piece to accent my outfit. Either way these accessories help to transform a simple ensemble into something special.

So it is with using art in the garden. I'll often finish planting a vignette, container or garden border only to stand back and see that it needs a little 'something'. That sends me off on a treasure hunt through my stash of garden accents to see if there is something I can use. Often it is an excuse to go shopping - the "I haven't got a thing to wear" syndrome!

There are also times when I see a piece of gorgeous garden art or a stunning sculptural container that I completely fall in love with.  I have no idea where it is going to go but I swear I can hear it begging to come home with me, which then sends me on a walk through the garden to see where it would look the best. (An apology to my container-lugging husband is probably in order at this point.....).

Here's a few easy ideas to get you started.

For a gentle touch go for a monochromatic scheme - blue glass with lavender bushes or a golden gazing ball nestled within a bed of black eyed Susan's (Rudbeckia sp.) for example. If you prefer something with a little more glitz pick out one of the contrasting colors within the planting, or echo the shade of a container for emphasis.

Designer Christina Salwitz has echoed the shades within the glass in
this display while the ruffled edges of the Heuchera foliage also repeats
its shape.
Glass artist - Barbara Sanderson of Glass Gardens  NW
Photo and design credit; Christina Salwitz

Rusted metal is very  popular as a material for garden art, especially if it uses recycled components which would otherwise be headed for the landfill. The rough  feel of the metal makes a wonderful contrast to billowing grasses yet the earthy colors keep it looking natural.  

Ray Hammar of Blue Collar Artworks is a master at turning scrap metal
into artistic, functional garden art. This bridge is  one of his latest  creations.
You can see many more examples using this link.
Photo credit; Ray Hammar

Many of you love to dress up your porch and entrance way with seasonal displays and since spring is just around the corner (I hope) there is the perfect opportunity for a fresh new look. Here you don't need to worry about items being weatherproof so the design options are only as limited as your imagination. Fabrics are one possibility.

'Urban nest for an urban bird' is the creation of fiber artist
 Kim Groff-Harrington, one of the local artists at this years
Best of the Northwest. Wouldn't this be fun as part of an
 Easter display?
Photo credit; artist

So if you're looking for a little something special and you simply MUST go shopping, don't forget to visit the Best of the Northwest arts and fine craft show next weekend. My talk on Friday March 30th at 1.30pm is on Art in the Garden - a perfect partnership. I'll give you ideas on how to incorporate smaller pieces into container gardens as well as giving you ideas for some of the other pieces you'll see at the show that you know you just have to buy. Better still, you have just few more days left to enter to win free tickets to the show. (There's great justification in the phrase "But I saved $x"). Simply write a comment on the previous blog post here and tell me what your favorite type of garden art is. Be sure and include your email address so I can contact you! Winners will be drawn this Thursday.

Don't live in Seattle? No problem. Just head to your favorite nursery or art fair and tell them Karen sent you.

A special note to those reading this on Saturday March 24th, especially if you've just been listening to Ciscoe Morris and I on the radio!. Although the free tickets mentioned above have gone YOU still have the chance to win FOUR PAIRS of tickets! Just leave the comment before midday today (noon on Saturday March 24th PST) and be sure to include your email address. I'll be doing the random drawing right after that. Good luck - and thanks for joining Ciscoe and I on the radio.

For  tickets and more details about the Best of the Northwest and my talk follow this link.


  1. Lovely garden art! I enjoy adding pieces to the garden to add interest or create beauty. You have offered some great tips!

  2. Karen, That first image speaks volumes. Just look at the delight on that young child's face! Art is the perfect accessory to go in any garden. Love that colorful nest!

    1. Don't you just love the total openness of a child's expression? I wonder what garden memories he will recall in later years?

  3. Incorporating art works in the garden makes the outdoor space extra special. Although there are many beautiful flowers and plants to appreciate, little pieces of artworks make it better to spend time in.

  4. Loved your post Karen. The garden isn't dressed for me unless there is something artful in it.


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