Baby steps towards garden ornaments

Our garden has made great progress in the last few years, but its appeal rests almost entirely on the plants we’ve chosen and the way we’ve combined them. One major frontier remains largely unexplored: garden ornaments, or yard art.

Last year we added a few Asian-themed ornaments, but other than that I had always thought our garden would look better unadorned.

Granite lantern in the Koyabu style
Cast-concrete Guanyin head
Craftsman style granite lantern next to Fargesia robusta

However, the more gardens I visit—either in person or on the web—the more curious I become about the possibilities of giving our garden a unique character through ornaments.

While I have a soft spot for whimsy and kitsch, such as the cow and mannequin at Annie’s Annuals in Richmond, CA, they wouldn’t feel right in our garden even if we had the room.

Cow at Annie’s Annuals
Life-size mannequin at Annie’s Annuals

The space that has provided the most inspiration is Mark and Gaz’s garden at Alternative Eden. Their choice of décor is elegant, exotic, and timeless, and it strikes the right balance between not enough and too much. Check out these vignettes to see what I mean: 1 2 3.

However, I must admit that I don’t possess the innate sense of taste and design that Mark and Gaz do. I greatly admire their garden but I’m not sure I would be able to come up with something so cohesive—and what works in their garden may not work in ours. My inherent sense of style is more along the line of Matthew Levesque, although not quite as creative.

With ample time and an unlimited budget it would be relatively easy to go out and buy all the things that strike your fancy, but we have neither so we’re adding pieces as we come across them and can afford them.

Earlier this year we bought a few pieces of Haitian metal art made from oil drums that I’m very fond of. Just a couple of days ago I moved them from their old spot against the fence and hung them from the trunks of our bay trees. I love the almost monochromatic look of silver on silver, yet I think that they stick out enough to be noticeable without being in your face.

Haitian metal art
110822_oil_drum_art1 110822_oil_drum_art2
Haitian metal art

We just started to explore garage sales as potential sources for yard art. On Saturday we found two wooden masks ($7 for both!) which, while not made for outside display, are OK during the dry months of the year. I’m a bit of a sucker for ethnic masks (I have three in my office) so these appealed to me right away.

One is a Maya-inspired piece that for now is hanging on the fence between some potted bamboos. I’m not 100% sure that it’s right for this location, but I’ll give it a try for a while.

Mayan warrior shield (?)
110822_metalart maya
Mayan warrior shield and Haitian metal art

The other mask is a rather forbidding looking demon that looks good matched by the dark culms of a black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra).

Chinese (?) mask next to black bamboo

Time will tell whether these ornaments work or not in our garden. Since we have two active kids (10 and 13) and an equally active dog, it’s not a good idea buying fragile pieces of pottery because the odds of them being broken is high. But I’ll keep my eyes open for new finds, and if past history is any indication, something will smack me in the face (figuratively, hopefully) when I least expect it.


  1. They are fantastic Gerhard, all of them actually! I would buy them for myself if I spotted them here :)

    Looks great on their homes btw!

  2. Mark, that is high praise indeed! I was able to buy both granite lanterns used off Craigslist, otherwise those things are pricey!

  3. Your Haitian metal art looks incredible against the trees - it's perfect! anne

  4. Anne, we found the Haitian metal art at a nearby nursery. If they have any left the next time I go, I'll pick up another piece. The detail is incredible; a lot of work went into making them.

  5. I love all your yard art. Especially that last mask next to the black bamboo. I really like yard art also. I should take photos of my bff's backyard. They redid the whole thing and put up so awesome yard art. On the fence, trees and yard. I have a sun on my fence and bought a few more pieces of fence art. One is another sun that is completely different. Maybe I should start a sun collection.

  6. Candy, I would love to see your yard art--and your friend's! Why don't do you a post on your blog?

  7. I may have to do that but I don't have all mind up yet. Stan is dragging his feet. But I can go take pics at my friends and show theirs. It's really great!

  8. Wow!what a creative ornaments.These ornaments look so wonderful.Most of the people really love to see these ornaments in their garden.Thanks to the writer for sharing these amazing ornaments.

  9. These garden ornaments look so stunning.These most of ornaments are made up of concrete.The art done by someone in these garden is very amazing. I really like these garden.

  10. They are very stunning


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