Friday, April 20, 2012

Adding Funky Garden Art to Your Garden

Hand-painted (by me!) clay pot filled with summer annuals: althenaria, heliychrysum, cream marigolds, and alyssum. Garden art is so much a matter of personal preference. I see it as jewelry for the garden, like a gorgeous ring fluttering on a well-manicured finger or earrings glinting from delicate earlobes. Garden art should enhance, not be your garden. One of the best things about going on Garden Walks in the summer is seeing how other gardeners accomplish this accessorization of their gardens. Last summer, I went on a Garden Walk held by the Outagamie Master Gardeners. One of the gardens featured had gardeners whose style could be categorized only by the the word "funky". Since taking pictures and posting them in my blog about the walk, I have come top realize how big a search magnet the work funky is when connected to garden art. If I ever do a book about garden art, it will decidedly have the word funky in the title. When it comes to placing art in the garden, big botanical gardens are not a lot of help. They can afford or have donated to them the works of award-winning sculptors and have the scale and budgets to display huge ceramic and Italian clay pots and the machinery to haul them about and the glass houses to store them come fall. For me, washing out and lugging my beautiful large ceramic pots into my grow room for the winter is truly a chore. I much prefer the cold-weather formula concrete cemetery urn and bird bath I can leave out in all forms of Wisconsin weather. I have made the mistake of leaving clay pots outdoors on my deck filled with soil only to find the bottoms cracked off from the spring freeze and thaw cycle.
Esher-ish ceramic piece found at the Haeger factory outlet store in Dundee, IL a couple years ago. When I first bought it one winter for $20, I thought to use it on a pedestal of dry-laid 6" chimney brick topped with a 16"-square gray cement paver (instant art!) Garden art should illustrate you and your garden's individual style. For me, it also has to be on the cheap. There is a local Garden Walk which titles itself as a "Garden and Art Stroll". Too often, however, it seems the art is merely garden-themed, rather than intended for display in the garden, and/or of such value I could not consider placing it in the garden at the mercy of the harsh elements. I found I enjoyed the beautiful Haeger ceramic to much to expose it to winter's extremes.
A local dump find (our rural version of dumpster diving), this wrought-iron shabby chic garden bench with blue and white fabric covered cushions plays up my blue spiderwort and yellow tickseed. I do believe artists who also happen to garden have the best art in their gardens. Two of these artists have also written books to which I find myself often turning for inspiration for possible funky garden art I might actual be able to create myself. The first is Keeyla Meadows, author of Making Gardens Works of Art, and Fearless Color Gardens. Keeyla is great with color, and working with stone and bits of glass. Her book has lots of takeaways for even the marginally artistic among us. The other is A Garden Gallery, written by George Little and David Lewis. Little and Lewis are a gardener and artist team who live and garden in the Seattle area. The pictures in this book are from their own garden and feature a lot of concrete works, particularly cast giant concrete leaves, and how to introduce water into a garden. Needless to say, one of their favorite colors is a royal blue, straight from a primary school student's paintbox.
This beautifully painted pot succumbed to WI's freeze/thaw cycle after two seasons. The acrylic paints did not do enough to seal the porous clay as I had hoped. An amazing artist friend who also blogs has this mosaic sculpture in her garden. She has named it aptly, Lola. So this year, I hope to do more with what I have in my garden, by placing some great funky items in my yard, other than just the shabby chic metal chairs painted raspberry pink or adding wrought iron phoenix birds to my new wooden gate. I might even plant my ceramic fish with the tail and mouth which can both be planted.

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