ARTICLE BY: BETH HANSEN-WINTER
Beth Winter is a HPSO Board Member, Photographer, Book Designer, and Hortiholic
After 20 years of collecting, my husband began to chide me for having “too much” garden art.
I must confess that when there are no leaves on the deciduous trees and shrubs to block the direct views, the garden IS a little bit crowded, but honestly, I don’t think one can have too much garden art! There are two things a garden needs in the winter when trees are bare and perennials are nonexistent: structural plants and garden art. Hardscaping defines a garden, and the selection and placement of art is an art in itself.
Look around your garden, squint your eyes, and imagine the scene you’re viewing as a black-and-white photograph (not difficult to do in the winter). Without the color, what’s the focal point of the scene? Does something leap to grab your attention and draw the eye? If not, chances are it’s a likely spot for a piece of art, an arresting attention-getter that makes the garden visitor stop and drink in the scene instead of just walking by. It could be a birdbath, a sculpture, a totem, or even just a large colorful glazed pot. Whatever you choose, it will add dimension and interest to that corner of the garden.
Hardscaping provides a framework for the garden, and surprise brings it to life. To me there are few things more exciting in the garden than coming around a bend of dense shrubs and discovering a beautiful statue on a plinth, a weathered old birdbath, or a gazing ball tucked into the foliage. Even an artfully placed boulder qualifies. The element of surprise entices the garden visitor to continue and discover the next surprise, the next beautiful punctuation point in the garden.
Imagine an allee of trees framing a long stretch of path. You’ve seen pictures. I know you have. Inevitably, at the end of that gorgeous double line of trees stands a stunning sculpture. Without that jewel at the end of the path, as beautiful as it is, it’s still just a line of trees. Think of garden art as a pair of beautiful earrings—the final touch dressing up a lovely outfit.