Growing up, my whimsical perspective of garden art included the well placed pink flamingo, garden gnome, shells from the seashore or bird bath. As maturity in age and gardening ensued my horizons have broadened and I now love to play with rock accents, birdhouses antiques and real pieces of art.
This spring I had a wonderful opportunity to work with sculpture. Andrew DeVries. He is the first artist to exhibit within the entrance gardens to the National Museum of Dance here in Saratoga Springs. This outdoor art exhibit experience made me analyze many elements when considering art in the garden.
First and foremost, garden art is a phenomenal means to add very different form and texture elements. Size ,shape, and theme all add to the ongoing interest of the seasonal garden. Placed with care, the art can give a new flow to the gardens, as the eye moves from one piece to the next. It’s presence can highlight a particular cluster of plants or bring out a specific color .
When thinking about placing art or any pieces in the flow of gardens always look at the seasonal size of the surrounding plants. When we did so at the dance museum, my familiarity with plants and bloom time gave us a good indication of what size structures would work in specific spaces. The larger pieces obviously went to the forefront of the gardens where more height was available with combinations of shrubbery and plants.
In addition, the postures of the pieces gave rise to placement in garden flow, much like a well choreographed movement. A welcoming gesture and posture piece was placed roadside in the gardens to invite guests into the area and explore. An arched back seemed best suited at the tip of the waterfall area, creating the illusion of a dance movement over the water flow. While an outstretched hand on a piece suggested the need to position it as if reaching for the saucer sized hibiscus. This makes the art an integral part of the garden flow, much like a well choreographed movement piece.
Also look at the character of your pieces. Do they represent your theme or inspiration? Obviously artist DeVries intricate sculptures of dancers gave rise to appreciation of the physicality of dance. This offers a remarkable element to the customary indoor static exhibits. One gardener I know uses antiques in the flow of her garden. It blends well with the Victorian era of her property and feeds her passion for antiques.
We do not all have the resources to place such renown art within our humble gardens, but we can tailor and select to give rise to our own imagination and creativity. As the old Celtic saying goes…”leave room in your garden for the Fairies to dance”. Well give them something to dance around with art!