Winter is the perfect time for planning and dreaming about the garden as very little can be done outside. I am an old romantic and I really love decorated gardens, with nooks and crannies and little still life collections hidden away in otherwise dull corners. Perhaps it is my inner struggling artist that tries to get out and express herself, with more or less success. I have never been able to paint as my squiggles look like that of a cat, but I do love combining plants and objects in the garden and when I visit other peoples gardens I collect ideas that I like to interpret freely when I get home. Here are some of my favourite ideas from last summers garden travels and I hope they give you some inspiration!
Much of what we see in the garden is a combination of plants and structures that we don't really reflect upon - it just makes a pleasing picture. Yet, in all the most famous gardens it is a carefully curated art to combine these elements. Often the materials are selected to harmonise with each other, or maybe even limited to one colour scheme or sort material. Old rusty cast iron harmonises beautifully with terracotta pots, plated wicker that has gone grey will blend in with both seasoned clay and terracotta. A lot of gardeners think about the colours of flowers, but often it is the quiet lushness of the foliage that provides the backdrop which enables decorative features to stand out. Even when using strong colours, keeping the palette to a limited range will harmonise the impression. Often you see the same tones or even the same plant used over and over again to give continuity. Randomly placed objects are in fact not so randomly placed; most talented gardeners have a keen eye for space and distancing.
A garden is a dance between the whole and its many parts. There are some obvious elements in the design structure like borders catching a view and paths that linger between different spaces of the garden, but also little elements within these that enhance the space. As you can see in most of these pictures, a combination of objects make a whole. It is much more difficult to make one single object that stands out fit into a garden, and if going alone I recommend using an object that in colour blends into the surroundings. An example of this would be the sundial that is used as a focal point at the end of a path in the picture above. When using a selection of pots and decorative elements like in the picture below, it is much easier to go a bit crazy and be adventurous. The good thing is that these are movable objects, so you can always change your mind and rearrange the still-life any time you want! Have fun!