Cultivating Art

Gardening is more than just setting out plants. Incorporate fun into your yard by adding creative accents.
Charlie Thigpen

Outdoor art perks up any type of landscape, especially a cottage garden, where just about anything goes. It might be a beautiful bronze sculpture centered in the garden, a simple gazing globe, or a colorful birdhouse.

Each individual views art differently. If you like something and it makes you happy, then display it. Set it out in the garden to give your yard personality and make it unique.

The saying that one man's trash is another man's treasure certainly does apply to garden art. Take a trip to your local flea market. Items such as a cracked urn or rusty iron chair can be set out to give a new garden an instant aged look. An old mirror hung in the back of a border is a great way to give additional depth to a small space. Inexpensive folk art also works well in cottage gardens.

Working Designs
Art can be functional, like a beautiful iron gate that swings open to greet guests. Homemade concrete stepping-stones imprinted with children's handprints, fern fronds, or other leaves catch your eye. Decorative arbors and trellises add height, structure, and shelter to a landscape and give support to climbing vines.

A specimen crepe myrtle or an elegant Japanese maple makes a strong focal point. Boxwoods can be clipped into unusual shapes. A camellia espaliered against a wall adds a nice touch to a courtyard.

Don't Take It Too Seriously
Mississippi garden writer Felder Rushing has a lot to say about art. He likes to have fun, so he displays some wild pieces in his garden. His favorite is a pink flamingo he named "The Empress." Decorated with costume jewelry, the bird is louder than a peacock in full strut. Felder doesn't care what people think of his garden. "It doesn't matter what you say or do," he says, "because neighbors are going to talk about you anyway."

Free Art
Use scrap wood and tin to build neat birdhouses and feeders. From a piece of cut tree trunk and some colored bottles, you can create a bottle tree that will glisten in the bright sunshine. A piece of gnarly driftwood, sculpted by Mother Nature, adds interesting lines to a woodland garden. It will look right at home mixed with ferns and hostas.