There is no better way to reinforce your personality in your garden than adding a well-thought-out sculptural piece. Here are some tips on how to select and integrate a highly valued sculpture into your garden.
Choosing a piece
When choosing a sculpture for your garden, don’t limit yourself to ready-made pieces. If you stretch your imagination a little, you’ll discover that many objects around you can take on sculptural qualities when placed artfully in the garden. Think about beautifully shaped ceramic vases, rounded boulders, clipped greenery (topiary), wall art or even found objects.
Remember that the appeal of a sculpture depends largely on your emotional response to it. If it means something to you or your family, the more significant it will be. Yet, certain types of sculptures tend to suit particular garden styles better than others.
Abstract shapes, for instance, suit a sleek and modern garden. A wildflower garden can provide the perfect setting for a contemporary piece. Similarly, classical statuary can add an element of surprise in a modern rectilinear layout and also enhance an urban space. In cottage gardens, figures of domestic animals, beehives or rustic farm equipment work wonderfully well.
When you have chosen your ultimate sculpture, take time to find the right spot for it and to integrate it into your design. The idea is to contrast the sculptural piece from its surrounding so that it stands out.
Contrast simple, solid shapes with gauzy grass heads, for instance, or view them through a haze of shrubs.
Intricately detailed sculptures look best with a plain backdrop, such as a plain wall or a clipped hedge. Other pieces work best surrounded by reflective water or by plants in a border. Similarly matte surfaces like natural stone or weathered timber create perfect backgrounds for highly polished metal pieces.
A small piece of sculpture will be lost in a large open garden. But bring it into an intimate courtyard and it is in perfect proportion to its surroundings.
Try ‘anchoring’ small ornaments by placing them next to a solid piece like a boulder or an oversized vase. Alternatively, mount decorative objects and plaques or raise them closer to the eye level on plinths.
To gauge the size of sculpture required for a site during planning, use placeholders such as plastic garbage cans or carton boxes to help you visualise how the sculpture will fit into the proposed setting.
– The writer is a landscape architect.