The Grumpy Gardener – Sculptures or Gnomes




The Grumpy Gardener – August

Hints & Tips With Mike Alexander
In his regular column for French News Online, professional gardener Mike Alexander warms to garden ornaments but remains hugely sceptical about gnomes.

I recently returned from Bordeaux where following an earlier tour of Rio de Janeiro, Salzburg and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Catalan sculptor Jaume Plensa presently has an exhibition of several of his works.
Catalan sculptor Jaume Plensa's offering:  Tree huggers as garden statuary (Credit: Mike Alexander)

Catalan sculptor Jaume Plensa’s offering: Tree huggers as garden statuary (Credit: Mike Alexander)

His art is on display at various outdoor sites in the French wine capital until October 6. Some of the works are as tall as 7m but it was the smaller tree hugging ones in the Bordeaux Jardin Public that caught my eye.

Some years ago I built a small garden for a client in a courtyard. It was a compact garden with a background of evergreen shrubs and roses fronted by a delicate array of annuals and perennials. Opposite the French windows I built a base on which to place an ornament but left it the client to choose that for herself.

On a return visit some weeks later I noticed she had found a ceramic statue of Elvis Presley in all his glory which now held pride of place among the shrubs and flowers I had planted.

That incident drove home a fundamental lesson in designing gardens for other people. While a garden designer normally can, and indeed should, influence the choice of plants and while overall design can be agreed in general terms before work starts, statues remain a very much more subjective matter. A prancing Elvis for instance would never have entered my mind even had I been drinking nothing but Absinthe cocktails for a week.

Preferable to a rollicking Elvis statue! (Credit: Mike Alexander)

Preferable to a rollicking Elvis statue! (Credit: Mike Alexander)

For I have a distinctly rustic taste in garden ornamentation. Old stone carvings, rusted metal sculptures and slightly quirky pieces are what you will find poking out of the shrubbery in my own garden. I don’t try to impose my own taste though and I accept that there are still plenty who love the classic Grecian gods and goddesses, minus various limbs, or the molded concrete dolphin leaping realistically from their freshly trimmed lawn.

I even have one seemingly normal client who has sneaked a jolly little gnome into the garden I so attentively designed for her. He is a robust little blighter and has survived a few incidents where I accidentally hit him with the strimmer. Not that easy either when you consider I had to climb over several shrubs to get at him.

Positioning garden ornaments and statuary is as important as your choice of decoration itself. A statue helps draw the eye and becomes a focal point and so works well when placed at the end of an axis or opposite a door or window. Ornaments and statues can also lend an element of surprise which is so important to good design.

Just peeking through foliage or positioned to be spotted as one rounds a bend are both useful techniques. And of course garden ornamentation is not limited to statuary. Pots, birdhouses or even an architectural looking rock can all add punch to the plant material you garden with. Don’t be influenced by other people’s idea of what is aesthetically pleasing. Your garden is your own fiefdom and you get to choose what works for you, even if that should include a regiment of garden gnomes!

Tree hugging in the Bordeaux Jardin Public  (Credit: Mike Alexander)

Tree hugging in the Bordeaux Jardin Public (Credit: Mike Alexander)

 

Previously – click an image below
To read February's gardening tips article - click this image
Is a world without bees possible? Read about this crisis that will affect us all - click here
Prune for Results
A World Without Bees?
What you should have done in January!
Prune your roses - click here
Fruit Tree Pruning
Wars of the Roses
Grumpy Gardener April - It's War Out There. Click to view
Click to read this article
Prune When Finished
Herald of Spring…
click to read Grumpy's july  tips
You’ve got to be quick!
Un-thirsty Lavender
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To read this August 2011 article - click here
Grasp the Nettle
Star Jasmine – Madrid
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To read this August 2011 article - click here
Jihad – on Bunnies Ears
Autumn Arrives
Designer chic or neccessity? - click here for full story
To read this article - click here
Designer Chic?
Gravity – not to be ignored!
If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Grumpy contemplates the winter garden
If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Grumpy contemplates the winter garden
If Winter Comes….
Hottest chilli in the world
Dogs and Daffodils... full story - click this image
The iris and Madame la Guillotine... full story - click this image
Dog Days…
Fleur de Lys
Hedge You Bets - how do YOU like your hedges... full story - click this image
To read a previous article
– click an image –
Hedge Your Bets
www.french-news-online.com

Grumpy Gardener

Our Grumpy Gardener has been gardening professionally in France for more years than he cares to remember and before that in Africa and the UK. Today he happily shares his expertise with French News Online readers. Your gardening questions are welcome and while they may not be individually answered, they may form the basis of future monthly columns.

Writer: Mike Alexander
grumpygardener@french-news-online.com

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