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How Art Fits Into Gardens: Learn About Adding Art In The Garden

How Art Fits Into Gardens: Learn About Adding Art In The Garden


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

There are many ways to add your personality to the landscape. Planting choices and design are the obvious method, but garden art can really accentuate your plan. Using works of art in gardens provides a foil for the organic arrangements. Art in the garden puts emphasis on the differences between nature and composition, but it also somehow marries the two aspects. Consider how art fits into gardens as you make your creative choices.

How Art Fits into Gardens

Art has the ability to draw the eye. It can be cleverly designed to blend in with its surroundings and bring out the background. This versatility means garden art is the perfect way to jazz up your landscape. Placing works of art in gardens highlights the beauty of surrounding plants and flowers. The definition of “art” is up to you.

Whether painting, sculpture, funky furniture, mirrors, or even repurposed household items, art is meant to lead the eye. Its placement in the garden will draw visitors along the path to adventure, peace, or whatever feeling you want your natural space to convey.

You don’t have to have a lot of skill to create garden art. Even simple children’s projects, such as decorated cement stepping stones, add whimsy and charm to the landscape. Art in the garden can set the tone and theme. If may also serve a purpose, as in the case of a decorative gate.

Another reason to add art to the garden is to add color and form, especially in instances where the whole planting scheme is a stark, identical green.

How to Use Art in the Garden

Garden schemes reflect the gardener and denizens of the home.

  • Making a fanciful garden, when young children are present, enhances their dreams and play. A fairy garden is a perfect place to fulfill dreams and fantasies. Harry Potter garden objects, or another favorite character, sprinkled amongst the daisies and daylilies, is a creative nod to beloved story lines.
  • For the adults in the family, a hobby might be reflected. A simple Zen garden is enhanced with Asian inspired statues such as a pagoda.

Art in the garden is deeply personal and should suit your tastes.

Garden Art Inspiration

You can purchase art for the garden in many ways. Online, garden centers, statuary shops, and garden shows abound with such examples. But simple, homemade art also stands center stage. Some easy examples the whole family can create might be:

  • Bottle art – Stage unique and colorful bottles and install them on stakes, or use as edging.
  • Paving stones – Embed colorful stones, marbles, shells. Use colored cement. Have children draw in the cement before it hardens, or place little hands in the stuff to memorialize childhood.
  • Paint the fence – Everyone can join in on this. Either go freeform or stencil out the design prior to painting. Transforms an old fence and brightens dark garden spaces.
  • Create a mosaic – Use different materials like bricks, stones, pavers, various types and colors of gravel or sand.
  • Make fake flowers – Painted hubcaps and other items affixed to metal stakes take on the tones of your favorite blooms.
  • Rock art – Send the kids out to collect neat rocks and paint them. Each could resemble a bug or just add a pop of color.
  • Plant in unusual items – A discarded tea pot, old watering can, tool box, even a toilet. When painted and planted, they are unusual and whimsical art installations.

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Take a look around your garden and decide where it could use a little extra color and pizzazz. Choose a project based on your skill level and the style of your garden. If you have a cottage garden, you might enjoy making a sweet little fairy house. If your garden is more bold and modern, try making copper flowers. If you have a dark corner in your garden that you’d like to brighten up, make a DIY water drop light.

Whatever you choose, you will love the new features you’ve added to your garden. Making DIY projects at home saves money and allows your artistic ability to shine. These projects will complement your plantings and make your garden stand out compared to others in your neighborhood.


The Gardens The art of perspective

Visitors looking through the central window in the Hall of Mirrors will see the Grande Perspective stretching away towards the horizon from the Water Parterre. This unique east-west perspective originally dates from before the reign of Louis XIV, but it was developed and extended by the gardener André Le Nôtre, who widened the Royal Way and dug the Grand Canal.

The Palace of Versailles, the Grand and the Petit Trianon are closed.
The park of Versailles, the lake of the Swiss Guard and the Estate of Marly are open to walking from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The last access to the Park is at 5.30 p.m.
Access to the Park is possible by the Queen's gate, the Saint Anthony gate and the Sailors gate.
Conditions to access the estate of Versailles.

In 1661 Louis XIV entrusted André Le Nôtre with the creation and renovation of the gardens of Versailles, which he considered just as important as the Palace. Work on the gardens was started at the same time as the work on the palace and lasted for 40 or so years. During this time André Le Nôtre collaborated with the likes of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Superintendant of Buildings to the King from 1664 to 1683, who managed the project, and Charles Le Brun, who was made First Painter to the King in January 1664 and provided the drawings for a large number of the statues and fountains. Last but not least, each project was reviewed by the King himself, who was keen to see “every detail”. Not long after, the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart, having been made First Architect to the King and Superintendant of Buildings, built the Orangery and simplified the outlines of the Park, in particular by modifying or opening up some of the groves.

Creating the gardens was a monumental task. Large amounts of soil had to be shifted to level the ground, create parterres, build the Orangery and dig out the fountains and Canal in places previously occupied solely by meadows and marshes. Trees were brought in from different regions of France. Thousands of men, sometimes even entire regiments, took part in this immense project.

To maintain the design, the garden needed to be replanted approximately once every 100 years. Louis XVI did so at the beginning of his reign, and the undertaking was next carried out during the reign of Napoleon III. Following damage caused by a series of storms in the late 20th century, including one in December 1999, which was the most devastating, the garden has been fully replanted and now boasts a fresh, youthful appearance similar to how it would have looked to Louis XIV.


Mediterranean Gardens

Italy Inspired: A South Florida Landscape

Resplendent with old-world charm, this landscape combines classical European garden design elements with exotic tropical plants.

Rudd Oakville Estate in Napa Valley

Complete with magical silvery-leaved olive trees, fragrant herbs, and enormous urns, this garden and vineyard were inspired by those in Burgundy, France.

A Mediterranean Garden in Berkeley

This garden, inspired by paradise gardens in the Mediterranean and Persia, is centered on a tiled fountain surrounded by unusual plants.

Mediterranean Plants for Your Garden

Discover 12 sun-loving, easy-care landscaping plants from around the world.


Dish Flower Tools & Materials

Some of these links go to my affiliate account at Amazon.com

  • Used kitchen glassware and metal plates, bowls, serving dishes, votive candle holders…. I choose pieces around 1/8″ thick.
  • Tiered serving dishes work great because they already have holes drilled in them.
  • Old forks and spoons (to use as leaves on the wooden flower stem)
  • Plastic or metal dish pan
  • Old towel (you might drill a hole in it)

  • 5/16′ diamond drill bit ($15-20 US) – cuts glass, marble, porcelain, granite, and slate
  • 1/8′ masonry drill bit (optional-if you want to make a pilot hole in the glass to keep the diamond bit from slipping
  • 1/2′ titanium drill bit (for drilling holes in the forks and spoons)
  • Cordless drill
  • Safety glasses and protective gloves
  • Masking tape (optional)
  • Sharpie marker

  • GE II Silicone Sealant and caulking dispenser (or similar adhesive in a tube)
  • Also seeThe Glue Resource Guide for Garden Art Projects for more options.
  • 16-gauge wire (10 inches for each flower)
  • Washer and bolt (1 each per flower) or strong metal buttons with two holes (1 button per flower)
  • 1 x 1 x 48″ wood posts (1 for each flower)
  • 1/2″ wood screws (for attaching forks and spoons to the wooden stem)
  • copper pipe end cap (optional) for attaching flower to a pipe stem

If you are new to using silicone sealant as an adhesive, read these tips first.

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Design

  • Pick various sizes of dishes that look good together and fit well together.
  • For the flowers you see here, I used clear and blue glass plates plus some small metal serving dishes.
  • If you want to make several flowers to group together, you might want to pick a color theme (blues, reds, greens, or simply all bold colors or pastels).

Set-Up

  • Place folded towel in bottom of dish pan.
  • Add enough cold water to cover towel plus a little more.
  • Have dishes, drill (and bits), and safety glasses and gloves ready.
  • Mark the plates where you want to drill each hole with the Sharpie.

Optional – Pre-Drill

  • Place a small piece of masking tape over the intended drill hole area and pre-drill a starter hole using a 1/8″ masonry drill bit. The masking tape keeps the drill from slipping. The starter hole helps the diamond drill bit stay in place.

This video is fairly old but it does show me drilling a hole in a dish with one hand! The other hand is hold the camera, so you can see it’s not difficult.

Want to download these instructions?
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Drill The Glass

This will take from 1-4 minutes per dish, depending on the glass.
Wear safety glass and gloves.

  • Place the glassware in the dish pan. Allow some water onto the surface of the glass.
  • Put on your fancy safety glasses and gloves.
  • Start drilling on medium speed, holding the drill at a 45 degree angle to the plate.
  • Hold the drill steady but do not press too firmly against the glass. The diamond drill bit will do the work. You want consistent speed, not force.
  • After about ten seconds, slowly move the drill (while you’re drilling) to a 90-degree angle, directly over the hole.
  • As you drill it will look like little clouds of smoke are moving in the water around the hole. That’s the tiny bits of glass being drilled away.
  • Usually after a minute or two , the drill bit will suddenly plunge through the plate when the hole is done (be prepared).

Drilling Metal Plates & Cutlery

  • Thin metal serving dishes drill quite easily using a metal (titanium) drill bit.
  • Metal cutlery (forks, spoons) can really vary for ease of drilling. You just have to try and see if it works. I have luck with about half of what I try. The rest are mightier than me and my drill and will survive a nuclear attack.

Want to download these instructions?
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Assembly & Adhesive

Assemble the Flower

  • Place some silicone sealant wherever the plates will be touching each other to keep the pieces from rubbing too tightly together. Work from back to front and line up the drilled holes as you go.
  • Allow the sealant to dry (usually takes 3 hours).
  • Thread a nut onto a 10″ piece of wire and fold the wire in half. Pinch the wire together to hold the nut in place and thread the wire through a washer. Thread everything through the front of the dishes. The nut and washer keep the wire from slipping through the flower. Alternately you could use a two-hole metal button at the center of your flower to hold the wire in place.

Prepare the Wooden Stem

  • Drill a pilot hole and then a 5/16″ hole through the wooden stem. (Drilling the pilot hole first keeps the wood from splitting.)
  • Use forks and spoons as leaves, attaching them with small wood screws.
  • Hammer post into ground.

Mount the Flower on the Stem

  • Attach flower by threading wire through hole in wooden stem and secure at back.

Want to download these instructions?
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How to Use Rocks in the Garden

Rock Crafts

Creating rock feet has taken Pinterest by storm, and I must admit, it appeals to my family side, but doesn’t look too cutesy. Love this! Instructions are pretty self explanatory. ) We actually took this photo while we were at the beach in Depoe Bay Oregon, but obviously you can do this anywhere. Just spend some time finding the right rocks for what you want to achieve.

Here is another example of using rocks in the garden that we came across. Love these cute little feet!

Feet not your thing? :) How about a rock fish? Remember again, you can either leave these stones loose so that you can change the design often, or you could use construction adhesive to lock them into place as well.

Pebble Mosaic Ideas

Create mosaic art with stones on planters, stepping stones, or even in the ground as an accent to your plantings! Lay out your stones in the desired pattern first, then transfer to your surface and attach with construction adhesive. Check out the tutorial over at ‘Jeffrey Gardens’.

Dragonfly Stone Mosaic

Another kids favorite, but great for any garden where nature has a hand. Pick up some simple gems, sequins and spark lies at the dollar shop or craft store. Choose a stone that’s slightly larger than the dragonfly you wish to create, and about the right shape. Lay out your sparklies until you have a design you like, then transfer and attach with construction adhesive. Looks cute tucked into some long grass, or in a ground-cover to partially hide the stones edges. This one from ‘Wisconsin Made’ gives you the idea or you can buy it from them here.

Stacked Rocks in the Garden

Stacked rocks are otherwise know as a cairn. A cairn is essentially a man made pile of stones, originally a Scottish tradition to note a landmark, or a memorial. They can be lovely testaments to nature within the garden, are easily made, and can be added to over time as a tradition of the home. If you want to learn how to do this as an art form, visit ‘Garden Design Magazine‘ for their post on the art of “rock balancing”. Source: Houzz

Here’s an easy stacked rocks idea that we made with just ordinary rocks that we found by looking around the garden and yard. Remember, you are never looking for perfection when building a cairn. Honor nature.

Here are some stacked rocks we made real fast at our friends house in Seattle! Did we mention, it’s a fun thing to do as well! Although we love the fact that we have to work hard at rock balancing, you could also use a construction adhesive to hold the stones in place. This would make it more of a stone sculpture.

Ladybug Painted Rocks for Kids (Of All Ages!)

Remember the pet rock? There are a lot of cute and easy ideas for painting ladybug rocks that make a garden a delight for young and old alike. Great way to bring kids into the joy of gardening. Not sure of the source of this cute photo below. If anyone knows, please let us know in comments.

This ladybug craft is from an Etsy shop called ‘BeachMemoriesByJools‘ , but is very DIYable. Use stones from the garden for this rock craft, then attach them to a piece of reclaimed wood. Now all you have to do is find a corner of the garden to display it!

Inspirational Stones

Simple! Pretty stones, pretty saying, paint pen. Display on a walkway, piled in a planter, or tucked next to special plants as secret garden surprises. A great example are these inspiration stones. DIY them with oil based paint pens or buy them from ‘Elizabeth’s Embellishments‘.

Other Ideas for Rocks in the Garden

From ‘Tangly Cottage Gardening Journal‘ is this great downspout creek bed idea. A great way to use up the rocks in the garden! If you want to have a DIY Creek Bed become a larger part of your garden design, check out our post how to build a dry creek bed!

Creatively using stones and rocks in the garden is an inexpensive way to add a touch of whimsy and creativity, yet keep your garden space natural. Oh yea, and now you don’t have to pay the chiropractor! Also try our posts on DIY Garden Ideas with Rocks and How to Build Pond!

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