Garden garnishings

Garden Decor

GREAT GARDENS: Make your gardens interesting by adding elements such as statues, furniture and even mantap-like structures. File photo by Aruna Chandaraju

Gardens. How they banish the banality of our living/work spaces! But, don’t they first conjure up images of colourful flowers?

But, a garden’s aesthetic value can be enhanced through artificially-created accessories too. Modern aesthetic sensibilities – you’re saying? Not really. For, most ancient civilisations employed art pieces to embellish gardens!

Originally meant for worship, statues were installed in temples, temple-gardens, sacred-groves by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. The early Romans lent to statues a secular function – beautification.

They installed statues of gods (Venus, Diana, Neptune, Bacchus etc) as garden decor. It’s this garden art trend we have taken to today. Eastern garden art is also centuries old.

For instance, Feng shui artifacts. 

Garden furniture

Made of stone, metal, vinyl, plastics,  treated-woods etc, the primarily utilitarian furniture (tables, chairs,  benches, swings) heightens the garden’s beauty when exquisitely sculpted. But, its fountains, statues, sundials, masks, chimes, weathervanes, gnomes and birdhouses/bird-baths/bird-feeders that the West has long considered as garden art accessories.

Though Indians are displaying an increasing affinity for some of these, it’s terracotta artifacts they’re picking up with gusto. 

Other materials used for fashioning today’s garden art items?

Clay, granite, marble, copper, bronze, stained glass, concrete, wood, stainless steel, etc. Though they’re specially crafted to endure natural elements’ harshness, it’s advisable to move certain accessories indoors during the extremely chilly/wet months.

Fountains flourish in parks. But, they’ve also claimed space in larger residential gardens.

Good water-quality in decorative fountains is imperative, for people often wash their hands in or drink water from it! Regular maintenance for hygiene is however, arduous.

How about a sundial?

Sundials (indicating the Earth’s movement and the passage of time) migrated to the garden as art pieces once other means to set time were discovered.

But, if properly installed, their time-telling ability is astonishingly accurate. 

The plate should be North-facing and flat for this purpose. To set time, rotate the plate at noon until the time-indicating arm casts no shadow. Secure the sundial on a pedestal. Grow/arrange plants around it tastefully.

Today, weathervanes/weathercocks are merely beautifying pieces in Western gardens with cockerel, ship, arrow, horse etc motifs.

Marble bird-feeders, birdbaths, glazed globes and garden signs inscribed with inspiring, loving messages are other garden inhabitants.

Lifelike gnome-statues are installed owing to the belief that these tiny creatures tend the garden at night!

Strolling about a garden, you suddenly stumble upon masks or faces.

In our country, brightly-painted, awe-inspiring faces, usually placed on buildings and houses to ward off the evil eye, now appear in gardens too.

Marble figurines of Roman, Greek gods, cherubs and angels besides bronze reproductions of famous art-pieces like Rodin’s ‘Thinker’ are universal favourites.

Now, Indian gods, goddesses’ statues are also being promoted as garden decor. Statues of various Indian deities in red, black, green, white, gray marble are being crafted to cater to our tastes.

A fauna fan? Then, animal statues too galore. The terracotta Bankura horse is a regular Indian garden denizen. Indians also adore terracotta garden art pieces like sculptures, flower-pots, planters, urns, jars, wind chimes and bells.

Being water-proof, eco-friendly, relatively inexpensive and portable, they are much sought after today. Common terracotta hues fall in the orange, orangish-red and brownish-orange range.

Yellow, gray and pink are added to glazed products. Metal patina is also simulated. Easy to install anywhere, terracotta art exudes an unbeatable, ethnic charm in Indian gardens. Of course, the West also loves outdoor, terracotta artifacts.

Want to lend a magical touch to your garden at sundown? Try tastefully arranging artistic lights.

Place lights with domes of different shapes strategically to highlight your best plants. But, remember, overkill can mar the beauty of even the best selection of your green friends. Subtlety is the secret of an enchanting ambience.

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