Go for shape and size to suit the site when choosing an ornament to delight
In the Garden
A garden ornament adds a touch of distinction at any time of year. It takes on a more significant role in the months of spring, early summer, late autumn and winter, times when foliage is not so full, or is wreathed in flowers in summer.
An ornament provides a focal point, something for the eye to rest upon. Even if you glance at it several times every day, an ornament still has this effect. Well-chosen, it can become the heart of the garden.
Before doing anything about garden ornaments, it is essential to see if there is a good site, or sites, available as it will often suggest the ornament to be used, its kind, theme and size. If the space is large, it will usually be necessary to use something of size, although a small piece might be presented successfully too. For instance, a small bronze frog might rest beside a pond, and not be noticed until the last second.
The very act of placing an object in the garden is a statement of a kind. Why choose a piece of modern sculpture instead of a €50,000 Roman marble statue? Why choose a concrete replica instead of an original anything? These decisions need not be consciously made but they will be made by instinct, and by the depth of the pocket.
In making a choice, it is a great help to visit some public spaces and gardens open to the public to see how ornaments are displayed. Sometimes a similar approach can be used, or avoided, but public space usually needs objects on a much greater scale than domestic gardens.
Still, an outsize object can be a statement too, so there are really no rules, except that some thought goes into the placing and choice. Some gardens have too many ornaments, others have them badly placed.
All the more reason for having an ornament of some quality, or an object that you find pleasing, otherwise it will become an annoyance. If you find you like an object at the start but tire of it as your taste develops or simply changes, just move or replace it.
A garden ornament can range from a piece of high-art sculpture to a simple stack of bricks or a pleasingly shaped stone. They can be metal, wood, concrete, clay or stone. Some people use 'found objects', such as old toilets, baths, wheels, pumps, bicycles, mirrors, pots, driftwood, bog-oak and similar. Any of these can work well, as long as they are chosen and placed with a degree of thought - a garden shouldn't become a resting place for rubbish.
Walls, paved areas and trees can provide spaces for ornaments of suitable kinds. A plaque on a wall, an inset to a paved area or wind chimes in a tree can provide ornamental incidents, just as valuable as a statue backed by a hedge or border, or an ornamental fountain in a pond. A fountain can be decorative even if not functioning.
Ordinary garden objects such as seats, arches, pots or an old garden roller can have an ornamental function as well as a practical one, if placed to good effect. And while they needn't be highly decorative, that can complement the style or theme. Take some time to think of choosing and placing an object to good effect, being swayed by the shape of the space rather than the distraction of colour.
The Laois Garden Festival continues today with the Buds and Blossoms plant fair - there are lots of interesting plants for sale and there will be free talks from Kevin Hughes, John Anderson and Dermot O'Neill. For details, visit laoisgardenfestival.com.
Tuberous begonias are species and hybrids of species that have tubers. The advantage of tubers is that the tubers power their early flowering while non-tuberous kinds are still trying to build plant size. Tuberous begonias have large flowers all summer in bright colours: yellow, pink, red, dark red and white. If you didn't pot up tubers in mid-March, buy potted ones instead.
MAP AND MAZE
Although still quite new, large plants were used to establish the Rathwood Maze of Ireland in Co Carlow. The maze features each county of Ireland, built to scale and marked with the county town and rivers. Open until 5.30pm daily, €3 per person. Closed during winter. rathwood.com.
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