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The Ornamented Garden
by Lesley Reynolds
October 22, 2000

1pt.gif (86 bytes)As another growing season draws to a close, prairie gardeners are in the midst of planting bulbs and raking leaves. Soon the snow will fly and there will be time to sit back in a cosy chair and catch up on all the new gardening magazines and books that have piled up over the past few busy months.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)As you leaf through the glossy pages of recent magazines, it's likely that you will notice a proliferation of garden ornaments. The immense popularity of gardening over the past few years has been accompanied by a revival of interest in both traditional and innovative forms of garden ornamentation. The prairies are not exempt from this trend - just take a stroll though a local garden centre or gardening specialty shop to see the diverse selection of garden ornaments now available.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Any garden will benefit from judiciously placed ornaments; the key is to select those that suit the spirit of the garden and complement its overall appearance. Unique containers, water features, statues, and even garden furniture can be the finishing touches that make your garden distinctive.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)There are different types of ornaments to suit any style of garden. Formal ornaments are usually based on traditional European designs; informal ornaments can be modern, whimsical, or even natural objects. Both styles can work extremely well in urban gardens.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Sculptures are often used as dramatic focal points in formal gardens where they are set in the centre of a circular lawn, at the intersection of two paths, or at the end of a pathway. Walls and hedges make excellent backdrops for statuary. If your garden is informal, place sculptures under or amidst shrubs, at the edge of a pond, or hidden around a bend in a path.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Classic Greek and Roman figures or baroque-style cherubs are graceful additions to a formal garden. Particularly appealing to gardeners are statues of Priapus (the Greek god of fertility and gardens), Flora (the Roman goddess of flowers), Venus (the Roman goddess of the rose and guardian of gardens), and Saints Phocas and Fiacre, both patron saints of the garden.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Stone sculptures are difficult to find and can be very expensive; however inexpensive replicas are available. Modern sculptures of metal, wire, or willow cost less those made of stone, and artistic gardeners can even create their own.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Sundials are another ancient garden fixture currently undergoing a revival in popularity. There are two types of sundials: those that are mounted on a low pedestal and those mounted vertically on a wall. Locate sundials in a sunny location, and, if you wish to use them to tell time, you will need to calibrate the angle of the gnomon (the sloping part that causes the shadow). Sundials were traditionally used at the centre of knot gardens, collections of herbs grown in elaborate patterns and enclosed by clipped hedges. Today they still add a touch of nostalgia to an old-fashioned rose or herb garden.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Even small gardens can benefit from wall decorations to add life to boring wooden fences. Stone or ceramic masks, gargoyles, or tiles are just a few of the many wall decorations available. Wall-mounted fountains bring the soothing trickle of water into the garden and may even attract birds. These decorations look even better enhanced by the greenery and blooms of clinging vines.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Informal garden ornaments often mirror the personalities of individual gardeners. They are often objets trouvés - found objects that don't necessarily have a history of adorning gardens. These can range from painted wooden folk art cut-outs to bamboo bird cages or old lanterns. There are whimsical prairie gardens decorated with old sinks, bathtubs, and children's red wagons. Remember that understatement is the key to success. Too many unrelated objects may give the garden a cluttered look.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Functional objects can also be decorative. Old wrought iron gates or willow twig panels provide a framework for climbing plants, but also look attractive while the plants are small. Obelisks and other wire structures may be purchased to fit into pots to support climbing container plants.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Old garden paraphernalia such as wooden wheelbarrows or galvanized metal watering cans have pleasing shapes that are comfortably familiar. Leave them placed casually throughout the garden to weather naturally. Birdhouses, feeders, and birdbaths serve the dual purposes of attracting desirable birds and beautifying the garden.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Finally, remember that garden ornaments need not be restricted to the artificial type. Natural ornaments may be as simple as a weathered old stump in a woodland garden, or a small pile of rounded boulders. A dry streambed created out of pebbles and larger stones will give the appearance of a real stream.
1pt.gif (86 bytes)Whatever type of ornamentation suits your garden, try to choose a few objects that are durable enough to remain outside year round, so that a view of the garden on a snowy winter day will be almost as satisfying as a summer stroll through the flowers.

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