Dress up the garden with works of art

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

A garden consists of more than plants. The ancient Romans and Greeks knew this because their beautiful gardens included fountains, patios, urns, statues and pottery filled with plants.

Today designers have gone beyond these traditional structures and have provided us with what I call "garden art." I define garden art as any item displayed in the garden that accents the beauty of plants in the garden or accents the beauty of architecture that the garden surrounds.

One key attribute to garden art is that it can stay outside in all kinds of weather. You may think it's obvious that garden art should have this characteristic, yet you will find many items on the market today advertised as garden art that cannot be used or displayed outside in your garden. They are made of materials that degrade when exposed to moisture, temperature changes and wind. Therefore you can only display these items in a garden room inside your house.

Today's garden art is made of a range of materials that can handle our region's weather. These materials include but are not limited to metal, fabrics, concrete, resins and plastics.

The subject matter and the items found on today's market are as varied as the artists who created them. Flags are popular. Many of them depict different landscapes and scenes of the different seasons.

You can even dress up your mailbox with covers decorated with everything from garden scenes to the American flag. In many cases, mailbox covers and garden flags often are coordinated.

If you're into frogs, you can find resin statues, frogs or toads that are downspout covers and frogs playing musical instruments. Of course, dog and cat lovers can find a plethora of items.

If you have a favorite tractor, you're in luck. Spinners are now available in John Deere green and yellow, International red, Case orange, and Ford and New Holland blue.

If you're a grandparent, resin statues of little children that remind you of your grandchildren can be placed in your garden. One artist has even created a wire fence that depicts children playing.

If you love gardening but have a brown thumb, no problem. Metal flower sculptures are available in all sizes, varieties and colors. One artist has created roses, irises, sunflowers and daisies that are up to 6 feet tall. These flowers have one advantage over real ones: They don't die. But they may rust after several years.

If you have a particular interest, a hobby or a favorite pet, you can add the garden art to your landscape that will remind you, your friends and neighbors of your passion. Just go to your local garden center and look around. You'll be surprised at what you can find.

Send your gardening and landscape questions to Paul Schnare at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63702-0699, or e-mail news@semissourian.com.

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