The Inner Gardener

Inner City Gardening for the Soul

Garden Features and Ornamentation 21/06/2012

When incorporating  features and ornamentation into your garden, there a couple of things to remember to assist you to achieve the right ‘look’ for your space:

Try to use a feature that suits the style of your garden and house and complements them.  For example, if you have an informal native garden and wish to add a water feature, keep it simple and rustic, rather than ornate and formal, which would stick out like the proverbial.

  1. A formal house and garden with features to suit. The 3 square pots provide a complimentary contrast to the 3 circular windows. Victoria.

    This ornate sun dial fits perfectly into a rose garden in Germany.

    Think about the scale of the feature.  It needs to be in proportion to its surroundings so that the whole picture looks balanced.  A tiny statue placed at the back of a long garden is likely to get lost and not provide the visual impact you desire.  That’s not to say that going the other way, over-scaling and object doesn’t look right. If done with consideration, an over-scaled feature in a smaller space can provide a real WOW factor – just make sure you only have one of them! Restraint is important in a small space. One over-scaled piece can often look much better and cleaner than lots of little pieces which can confuse the eye.

  2. This urn provides a focal point at the end of a path and is the perfect size in relation to its surroundings. A smaller pot would not have looked ‘right’. Mt Macedon, Victoria.

 Placement of the feature is important. Where you want people to look is where you place a feature or an ornament. If you want to create a focal point in a garden them you might place a suitably scaled statue at the end of a major sight -line or axis. If you want the eye to be drawn a way from an unattractive view beyond your boundary, then place the object at a low level.

Think about the setting of the feature. It should be integrated into its surroundings so it doesn’t appear to have been ‘plonked’ in a spot where it looks awkward. Sitting a stunning sculpture against a dull paling fence might not do the piece justice, whereas something as simple as growing a glossy green-leafed climber on the fence or planting a green hedge in front of it provides the perfect backdrop.  While the view of the feature should remain unimpeded, that doesn’t mean that nothing can be planted in front of (low growing) or around it so that it appears integrated into it’s surrounds and the view of the feature takes on a new depth.

These 2 white features stand out agains the green grass, drawing the eye immediately to them. Karl Forsters garden, Potsdam, Germany.

This water bowl has been integrated into the garden through the use of foliage in front of and around it. Tree trunks act as a frame and the grey fence with green climber provide a suitable backdrop. Melbourne, Australia.

Here, a tree is used as a natural feature and the elements in its surroundings are designed to compliment rather than  detract from its form. Geoffrey Bawa’s garden, Sri Lanka.

The boundaries of the garden are also subject to the same considerations, as they are often the first thing people see when they visit. A smart gate or front fence that suit the house and garden can be a feature in themselves.

This lovely gate suits the rose covered cottage behind. Belgium.

The rustic ‘hand made’ look of this fence matches beautifully with the cottage garden behind. France.

An elegant fence around an elegant home. Austria.

Let’s not overlook a little  folly in the garden. A bit of fun and amusement from the features we use  to adorn the garden. Note that these still follow the rules of style, scale and placement.


Using the space you’ve got (Part 2) 05/06/2012

In the inner city areas, and many other places, the space set aside for the domestic gardens is continually shrinking. Despite this lack of space and the tendency for denser living and a smaller average personal space compared to 20  years ago, human beings will always have the urge to nurture and grow. Even one or two plants in the tiniest of spaces can provide aesthetic and psychological benefits.

Imagine this scene without the flaming red rose.

In many other countries the phenomenon of tight urban living has been occurring for a very long time. Perhaps we can learn from examples of overseas gardening in restricted spaces.

With apartment living being the most common form of accomodation in many cities and towns, the balcony, or if you are lucky enough a rooftop often becomes the only outdoor spot to enjoy the day and to grow a garden. There are lots of clever ways to achieve this.

A Rolls Royce Parisian rooftop garden, complete with cubby bouse!

Simpler but still as effective are these balcony gardens in Spain.

A tiny balcony becomes something special with a selection of vibrant hardy flowering plants contrasting against the white walls.

On tiny ‘balconettes’ in Granada, Spain there is still room for the beauty of plants.

This gardener has managd to fit a mandarin tree on this little balcony in Spain. Not only stunning but productive too.

Window boxes are another popular way of using every last inch of space. Plant selection is important in these spaces as conditions can be very harsh, especially at higher levels.

France – now that is using every bit of space. Note the good plant choices (succulents) for a spot that could get quite hot during the day

Here in a town in Burgundy, the stairway is utilised to its full potential to display potted colour. A welcoming entrance for visitors.

A stairway in Paris used to effectively display a selection of plants, leading to the front door.

A potted topiary garden in Belgium. Pots also allow the garden to be portable for relocation in winter, if necessary.

In this small street in Paris there is even room to allow this vine to grow, virtually out of a crack in the pavement!

This beautiful tiered plant stand in a garden in Ireland allows efficient use of the vertical space.

Another example of tiering or terracing to make use of the vertical space (Paris).

In Australia, we have the good old ubiquitous nature strip or verge which is underutilised as a a garden space. Just remember to plan for car parking when designing a verge garden.

As you can see, with a bit of imagination and adaptation of ideas from other countries, there is always a way to fit some plants into your space.