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EBy Laura Langston EVERY GARDEN NEEDS a strong focal point, and statuary provides it. Statues and fountains accent nearby plants and trees,
draw the eye and bestow style on a garden the
same way indoor accessories can invoke a
mood or tone.
Vanessa Gardner Nagel, an author and
landscape designer who lives near Portland,
Oregon, can’t imagine a garden without some
kind of art.
“You wouldn’t leave your inside walls
bare,” she says. “And it’s the same outside: You
need something other than the background
While choosing the right statue or foun-
tain is a matter of personal choice, Gardner
Nagel says it’s also important to consider the
Outdoor accents, such as a statue, a birdbath or a wall decoration, can brighten and highlight your yard.
architecture of the house.
An ornate Victorian fountain would look out of
character in front of a
home. Rules, however, can
be broken, and sometimes
a modern element in a
more formal setting provides the punch that’s
needed to elevate a garden
from simple to sublime.
Whatever you choose,
it’s important to work statues or fountains into the
overall garden design. ;ey
should never be added as
an a;erthought. So how do
you do it?
always look at it—so
it should never be used as an attempt to disguise problematic areas. And always consider
your backdrop. “You don’t want to highlight a
bunch of wires or the side of your neighbor’s
garage,” says Gardner Nagel. “You want a
hedge or something architecturally distinct as
a backdrop so the sculpture truly stands out.”
s look at it—so
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Consider what role you want the piece to
play. Do you want to draw people forward? If
so, place the piece to encourage forward
movement: at the entrance to the house, at the
end of the garden or just beyond the curve of
the path to entice people along. Is the piece
designed, as Gardner Nagel puts it, “to rest the
eye and provide a focal point?” If that’s the
case, ensure that the statuary will be appreciated up close and that the surrounding space
is conducive to a pause.
If you’re installing a fountain, is there
enough seating nearby? Is the sound of the
water pleasant yet low enough to facilitate
conversation? If the fountain is
at the front of the garden to welcome people, is it visible from the
street? What does that view look like?
And from a practical point, do you have the
necessary plumbing and electrical ;ttings?
Consider the overall view. Will the
statue be seen from one side or many?
From the house or the deck? Nestled
beside a shrub at the side of a pathway?
Does it need to be displayed on a pedestal? ;ink about how light falls during
the day and which plants will grow and
bloom as the season progresses. Experiment with a stand-in object of about the
same size beforehand to con;rm scale
Scale is important. Gardner Nagel
says it’s hard to give a rule of thumb, but
she tells people not to be timid. “Tiny
little ornaments are o;en overlooked
because they aren’t bold enough or placed
properly,” she says. One large sculpture
sometimes has more impact than a smattering of small pieces.
Consider also your investment cost,
and don’t forget to factor in the time
needed for maintenance. Garden
statues made from concrete,
stone or poly resin might
need a blast with the hose
every season (and extra scrubbing if moss sets in), whereas
bronze sculptures need regular polishing and
cleaning. Fountains also require regular
upkeep to ensure that the water and pump
remain free of debris.
Statuary works in both large and small
gardens, and even the smallest space can feature a sculpture. Gardner Nagel has a tiny ( 2
inches by 3 inches) piece of art in a lovely pot
near her front door, where it’s seen regularly
and up close. “Art can be any size,” she says,
“but it should be meaningful, and my memorial pot has meaning for me.” C
the day and which
ea hy n
properly,” she says.
Consider also y
bing if mo
Laura Langston is a journalist and novelist
who lives in Victoria, British Columbia.