Character and a sense of romance may be added to even the smallest garden with a few well-chosen decorative pieces
ANNE ELIZABETH WILSONAugust11926
PUTTING PERSONALITY INTO YOUR GARDEN
Character and a sense of romance may be added to even the smallest garden with a few well-chosen decorative pieces
ANNE ELIZABETH WILSON
The Home Beautiful
THERE are many old gardens which possess something more than an appeal to the mere aesthetic love of flowers—they have personality as well, and the tokens of their owners’ tastes and interests persist long after they themselves have passed beyond the making of gardens.
This making of permanent atmosphere in the garden, seems to be much the same art as the satisfying adornment of our houses, for with the multitude of things which might be packed helter-skelter into a small garden, one must exercise the same wariness in selection that is demanded in furnishing a small room—and above all, one must remember scale. Heavy benches, large fountain figures, bulky pedestals, these are the appurtenances of the great estate, but for the medium-sized garden, there is also a choice, restricted perhaps as to the number of actual objects which present a suitable use, but vastly flexible in the matter of form and character.
I know of a garden, just the small city type of, perhaps, fifty-feet depth, which, under the influence of its owner’s desire for improvement, has taken on all the bedizenment of a small, retiring little woman whose doting husband has laden her with expensive jewellery. There are two pools, birdbaths innumerable, bird-houses in every available crotch or accessible limb; weather vanes, potted evergreens, painted garden benches, a swing —and, crowning glory of all, a pair of miniature totem poles painted an effulgent scarlet for gate-posts. Needless to say, the house itself boasts a name blazoned above its lintel, which tells the whole story of the hectic growth beyond.
Yet that garden, it must be remembered, is conceived and developed with loving care.
Every superfluous stone that is wedged into it from year to year, is the outcome of affection. Let us, then, guard against a too great gardendeveloping enthusiasm. In our growing interest we must not over embellish the darling of our hearts. It is as important to know what to leave out, as what * to put in.
The small city garden has a choice of several beautiful pieces. There is the sun dial, the bird-bath, either of the pedestal or near - the - ground varieties, a pool figure or a single detached decorative figure; a stone, whitepainted or iron bench or two; a trellis of white wood or iron ; stone urns, low and resting on the ground or in pedestal form, and potted trees. But they cannot all be used in related units.
Here are a few possible combinations. Remember in grouping them that one pedestal piece only may be used in a garden on one level, or with one vista.
Group for a Sundial—Sundial, pool, figure edging pool, one stone or white wood bench (fairly near pool), two low stone urns (If steps appear anywhere, or if a wall termination suggests a place for them. Do not use them if you have to set them about indiscriminately.) A single tall urn i Italian oil jar) looks well alone in a corner, but usually should not be used in conjunction with a pedestal piece — i.e., standing birdbath or sundial.
Group lor a Sundial and Birdbath — Sundial, near - the - ground birdbath, white stone bench, low stone jardinieres. (No garden figure Is suitable here, because the birdbath would probably be carried out in crouching figure treatment, if of the “near-theground” variety).
Group for a Birdbath—Pedestal birdbath (as in illustration), two benches (stone or white wood), trellis of white wood or iron according to the garden’s formality. Wood is quaint, iron is formal. A good arrangement is to place it so that it forms a vista for the birdbath. An occasional low urn; painted or decorated flower pots.
Group for a Pedestal Urn —• Pedestal urn, near - the - ground birdbath, two benches (stone, white wood or iron), small garden figure.
Group lor a Tall Oil Urn or Jar — Italian urn or jar (very high graceful urn with two ear-like handles, made of pottery. Will hold cut flowers, but is decorative quite empty. Its best placement is a corner.) Near-theground birdbath, iron benches, stone jardinieres, garden figure.
Choosing the Group
I HAVE given you a number of wellbalanced groups, but your choice must necessarily lie in the type of garden you find it possible to develop with the terrain you have and the pieces you are able to secure. If you cannot engineer a pool, you can still have one of the two types of birdbath. There is nothing that you can buy that will give you so much, enjoyment with so little outlay. Evening is the time when bird ablutions seem to be in order, and their performances will both astonish and amuse you. They seem to know their own “place” and will frequent a stone orconcrete basin which is intended for them, more regularly than a casual bit of water. Moreover, a deep pool is a little dangerous for them. They may slip in balancing on the edge of a stone in dipping down into the water, and their feet frequently get entangled in the • roots of plants.
The materials of your garden pieces will be another problem. Anything in stone will be quite expensive, as stone represents hand - chiselling. Concrete (artificial stone) which is cast in the same manner as a metal, is equally effective sufficiently durable, and also white. White is an ideal choice for a garden; in brilliant contrast to greenery, and still distinguishable at night, it has a perennially fresh look and it weathers well. The use of white stone green of foliage is the secret of the beauty of the famous Italian gardens. Lead is another material which weathers beautifully in a soft, green, mossy way, and which may be cast in all the charming figures which the sculptors produce, at very reasonable cost. You will be able to get pedestal urns and little garden figures in lead that are very charming and which will grow more attractive with time. Wrought iron benches can be made very gracefully.
There are a number of workshops in all parts of Canada doing such work and beautiful old benches may sometimes be found in the gardens of homes which are being broken up.
Where to Find Garden Furniture
THE chief sources of suitable garden furniture are the sculpt o r s themselves, and a few landscape gardening firms who employ stone-cutters.
Sculptors will produce one master figure, for instance, from which they can cast reproductions in bronze, lead or concrete. The plain little pedestal birdbath in concrete, is turned like pottery. This is an excellent, simple type, graceful and very reasonable, that is
being used in literally hundreds of Canadian gardens. Garden figures in general are fantastic and inspirational little pieces which only an artist may conceive, and in this country at least, there is no big firm handling garden statuary in bulk. We shall be glad to give information to any interested reader, however, regarding places which make a specialty of selling garden furniture.
A sundial pedestal can be obtained from any stone cutter, or may be cast in concrete. It is the dial itself that is romantic and interesting. There are many quaint old metal dial faces in antique shops waiting to be claimed—-and they are usually quite inexpensive. Their inscriptions are often couched in a vein of tender melancholy, frequently a lament for the inexorable flight of time. “Time trieth troth”; “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may: old Time is still aflying”; “Time and tide wait for no man”; and, as on the fine old bronze face reproduced here, “Watch well your bright hours.” This face gives a clear idea, also, of how the shadow cast by the sun upon the dial accurately indicates the time.
One thought should be in our minds always: a garden is a permanent thing—• so when you are placing your groups, your little figures, your benches and urns, try to picture them many years hence “growing” in the spots in which you “plant” them. Let them rise up like flowers from among your foliage, or gleam out from the shadows of hedge-corners; try to avoid the effect of “spottiness” of odd bits set here and there. The ornament which you place in your garden must first grow into its background, and when this has been accomplished, your garden will assimilate it quite naturally and easily.
There is one phase of gardening which can and should always be done on paper; that is, the layout of a projected garden scheme. To embark upon the work without first planning it in this way, is almost certain to court disappointment in some respect or other. It is laborious work to “rub out” a garden and start afresh, but when everything is just on paper, it is no trouble at all. And on your plan you can leave shadow outlines for future improvements or additions which must be taken into consideration in the laying out of what you can afford for the present. And remember always, that simplicity is the keynote to design.
Let it not be a place like that condemned of Mr. Pope where
“Grove nods at grove, each alley has a brother,
And half the platform just reflects the other.
The suff’ring eye inverted nature sees, Trees cut in statues, statues cut in trees; Where here a fountain never to be play’d And there a summer-house that knows no shade.”
Precepts of the Landscape Gardener
AUTHORITIES on landscape gardening (and “landscaping” may be applied to the fifty-foot lot as well as to the
two-hundred-foot expanse) are loud in their denunciation of the business of belaboring the garden to suit the plan, rather than making the plan to suit the natural contour of the land. It caters to individuality and to easy beauty—neither of which attributes are secured by slicing, flattening and conventionalizing a small piece of ground. Small gardens are enough alike anyway, without putting the stamp of uniformity upon them in the attentions which you yourself give them. Many landscape architects urge leaving the back lot uneven as the ground is found when the house is built, in order to gain this individuality. All warn against the evil of “dumping” excavated earth either from the foundations of one’s own house or others who have earth to spare. Such earth is usually poor clay, utterly unsuited to the development of a garden or even grassland often fills in just those little declivities and possible terraces, which might add such charm and individuality to your plan. Of course there is always a certain amount of lawn stretch which must be filled flat, but housefoundation subsoil is not the filler for it.
Another drawback to a young garden, although in its older, less requiring stages it seems to have no ill effect and is certainly most beautiful, is the poplar tree. Because of its quick-growing proclivities it is used a good deal in the developing of gardens where results are required immediately, but its sucker-roots rob the rest of the garden of a great deal of nutrition. If poplars can get their hungry childhood over before you try to develop a lawn or flowers, they will not be a menace —but they are deadly if contemporary with the nurturing of a young garden.
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