A home is like an outfit of clothing: both need the right accessories to feel complete. Inside, window treatments, carefully hung pictures and well-placed sentimental trinkets work together to give a home its special look. Outside, a garden functions in much the same way. Make this outdoor space an extension of your home by taking your decorating flair to the garden.
Sculptor and garden hobbyist Mary Ann Inman envisioned adding classical European marble figures to her park-like landscape. She wanted accessories that would accentuate her garden’s serenity, so she sculpted a pair of life-size angels at rest. She felt a relaxed pose depicted power in its stillness, which was appropriate for the sacred space of her garden.
She began by drawing the angels, sketching while a dear friend posed for the male figure and her niece posed for the female. She followed the drawing by making a clay model from which she made a mold into which she poured a blend of pulverized marble and white cement. Inman then found a formula for bonded marble that would endure Montana winters. (For your own garden, pick accessories that can handle exposure to Montana’s unpredictable weather—glaring sunshine, hail in June, windstorms in the east—or be prepared to cover or remove them if necessary).
She finished the sculptures by positioning them atop separate boulders that had been shaped by nature’s elements. Each one contains fossils from an ancient creek bed, a perfect complement to Inman’s garden mix of the wild outdoors and the manicured English garden.
Inman suggests interpreting gardens as outdoor rooms—with walls of hedges, fences or trees; entrances in the form of paths, gates or arches; and with “windows,” framing views.
Gates and fences are very effective at turning the garden into a room since entrants must physically cross a threshold to enter the space. The rustic design of the gate complements a horse hitching post, fencing, picnic area, corral and other gates found elsewhere on this ranch property in Darby. The red picket fence ties to exterior red accents on the house.
Garden sculpture, stones or plaques with an engraved word or phrase can serve as inspiration too. Both the angels Inman sculpted have plaques at their bases with poetry written by her friend Ralph Nolan Smith. Iron craftsman Michael Jones forged this replica of his son’s foot. He and his wife placed it in a garden that lies beyond the backdoor of their master-suite cottage.
Like most Montana gardeners, Inman shares her vegetative bounty with deer. But, as she points out, “Sculpture is impervious to deer...” An additional benefit of sculpture is that it can provide a focal point or enhance a natural element. Or, it might draw attention to prized plantings. Look also to planting favorites in special containers to further distinguish them. In Montana, wagons are a popular choice along with worn out cowboy boots. These “pots” are great for annuals such as pansies or geraniums.
Remember that the accessory or sculpture should fit the environment in both style and size. Each item or piece should reflect the mood you want to create, highlighting the natural elements in your garden, and provide enjoyment. The ideas are virtually limitless: garden furniture, vintage boxes for storing gardening supplies, birdbaths, antique well pumps, one-of-a-kind custom sculptures. This spring, when you’re shopping for the perfect accessories, don’t forget to complete your home’s look by adorning your garden.