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Dress yard with this, that and those other things

The possibilities are endless when it comes to adding art to the landscape. The only limit is the imagination of the gardener.

Decades ago, a garden was almost totally devoted to plants but nowadays it may include outdoor living areas, sculptures, decor built around a theme or plain whimsy, and a myriad of choices of decorative objects.

Photos in gardening magazines depict billowing fabric draperies attached to outdoor rooms, opulent ceramic urns and planters, statues and elaborate hardscapes.

In some gardens, the plants appear to take second place to all the accessories.

Having lived on a farm and in small towns, I tend to be old-fashioned and still believe that the primary focus in a garden should be the plants.

I see nothing wrong with making the garden spaces inviting and attractive and believe a few carefully chosen and precisely places objects can add unique and interesting focal points.

Besides careful editing to ensure that the garden does not take on a cluttered look, consideration of the garden style is important. Each object should have its own space so that the viewer’s eye can be drawn to it and not distracted by other nearby objects.

A willow chair might suit a casual style but would be out of place in a formal landscape. Objects should be appropriately sized because scale is important. In an expansive landscape, large statues can be viewed from a distance and will fit into the overall view of the landscape, but they will be out of proportion and overpower a smaller garden.

Sometimes a theme can be carried throughout a garden, such as a farm theme with wagon wheels, gears and cogs or old cream separators.

A sea-themed garden might include large conch shells, replicas of ships, an old canoe and paddles.

A southwestern look might include some uniquely coloured rocks, animal skulls, driftwood or perhaps an old pair of cowboy boots used as planters.

What constitutes art is a personal decision and what is attractive and classified as art by one person might be dismissed as junk by another.

Items chosen should have visual merit, be unusual and interesting and contain qualities that elevate it above the level of junk. The objects could also reflect the interests and personality of the gardener.

Classic pieces like obelisks, large concrete lanterns, chairs, large boulders and gazing balls have traditionally been used in gardens and will easily fit into most landscapes. Other more unusual pieces might require careful consideration.

Topiaries are unique but must be positioned in the right spot to be effective. If it is whimsical, it might best be included in a rather informal garden.

If walls and fences are in the garden, metal stylized suns or framed succulent gardens might be displayed there. Areas of the garden that have been xeriscaped with rock and stone can be enhanced with decorative objects.

Pieces of art can include living sculptures and objects with live plant material. A stunning container can be planted with carefully chosen plants and staged in a prominent spot.

A fresh flower arrangement could be staged in a shady nook where it can be enjoyed for a few days.

A large design could be created using accessories such as pieces of birch trunk or curly willow, dried grasses and other things. Flowers or leaves could also be added.

Sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, blown glass and art that would withstand the elements might also be staged in the garden.

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