How to go with what you love (without going overboard)By Kriten Hannum
We’ve all seen scary garden décor. Moldy naked concrete statuary, gnomes caught in private acts, random junk painted in neon colors. We’ve also smiled as a friend sneered over a piece of garden décor — say, the face of a Green Man in a tree or a life-size ostrich cleverly made of twisted wire — that we actually sorta liked.
Liked a lot, actually.
And we worry that it’s a slippery slope, that our graceful bronze crane standing amidst the hostas might, in a few years, multiply into a backyard where it’s hard to see the Kniphofia through the kitsch. Or worse, a front yard.
Here then, is a brief guide to garden décor and how to add a few eccentric or classic touches to your garden.
Trust your taste
Garden décor and art have nothing to do with snooty art critics. It’s rather about whether a fountain, sculpture, mural or that quirky little wooden hedgehog in the pansies makes your heart smile. If it brings you joy, it’s right. It may even be art.
“Some people might think they’re kitschy, but I don’t care,” says longtime gardener Tracy Johnson about her the metal woodpecker on a tree out her kitchen window and other salvage metal pieces. “I love them.”
Think of garden décor as an opportunity to build your confidence in your own personal style. Just because a critical friend doesn’t like your giraffe theme doesn’t mean it’s not exactly right for your garden. It’s just not right for hers.
That said, if you’ve got qualms, trust them too. Put the piece (or pieces) in question in the backyard instead of out front. And if it turns out that the planter you repurposed from a wrought iron bed makes you feel disappointed or self-conscious rather than joyful, make it the star of your next yard sale.
Keep your inspirations
Don’t just flip the magazine page past that brightly painted wooden chair that makes your heart flutter. Tear it out and add it to your inspiration collection. Do you love your neighbor’s idea of using an old bed’s headboard for a gate? She doesn’t have a patent on it. Begin a scrapbook or Pinterest board with ideas and inspirations. Even if you never get around to painting a chair for your own porch, collecting ideas is fun and it gives you a better understanding of your own style. And whether it’s mostly whimsical, formal, Southwestern or English cottage, you can use it to give your garden a theme that will hold it together.
Basically, this means don’t let your garden décor become clutter. Just about every town has an example of a yard gone overboard. Use that as a touchstone for what’s too much. Think of that house crowded round by so many concrete fountains and statues that it looks like a display yard for a store.
That doesn’t mean you need to forgo collections of objects — colorful birdhouses on newel posts, displayed tools on a shed wall or galoshes filled with flowers on the fence all can be pleasing in an artful arrangement.
Refresh and cull
Your tastes evolve just as you do, and your garden is the perfect place to grow your style.
From time to time, take a look at your garden as if for the first time. What do you want to rearrange? Would a birdbath please you more than the sundial?
Then get to work. You’re creating a unique sense of place, a garden that will be like an outdoor room with your own personal style. No one can do it better.