Decorating Ideas

Your Garden Canvas

garden art

Gardens and art go together like wine and cheese. Each is enhanced by the presence of the other. So why not take your beautifully maintained but perhaps less than memorable garden to another level. Create those “Oh my” moments for visitors that will leave them remembering your paradise for more than neatness.

Many people freeze up when you suggest they be creative, but art in the garden can be anything that gives a thrill, or a spiritual moment, or even laughter. It’s co-creating with nature, so the sum result touches us, and gives us inspiration. I challenge anyone who says they can’t create art in their garden to ponder ideas and begin an artful relationship with your garden.

garden gateThe obvious path to art in the garden is to buy or make a piece and place it in the garden. This is perfectly fine. But don’t just plunk it somewhere – find or create a place that “fits” it perfectly. Plant a golden groundcover or surround a statue with flowers to enhance it. Group birdhouses or some other collectible together for a strong statement. Or build a colorful mosaic mural and hide it in the garden so when you find it you are delighted.

Striking moments can also be created with a simple specimen plant, a beautiful pot, or even a pile of river rocks. The key is to accent their features with exciting colors or textures or placement in the landscape. Topiary and espalier trees are excellent specimen plants. Really give them the spotlight, even if it’s a tucked away corner.

I love it when people flesh out a whole room in their garden that is magical to be in or gaze upon. Imagine a bird feeder station with painted driftwood and a delightful birdbath, coming together in some way that looks like a Disney movie. If a more natural look is your style, enhance the winter plant color and use a stone or wooden water source.  A meditation room with moss and ferns and a focal point, and a simple but comfortable seat, can give you a peaceful moment.

If you are a more practical sort, you can incorporate art in the structure and function of the garden.

A path can be made special with an inlaid stone design, reminding you to take a turn. One of the features people often comment on in our garden is the garden gate my husband built out of cedar branches. With window weights attached, the gate closes automatically, combining beauty and function.  Our chicken bread oven, made with clay and tiles, always brings a smile to visitors.

There are no rules or limits to home-style art, and it doesn’t have to be fancy or gallery worthy. Beautiful plants are going to make anything you do look good, so go for it and add your own human touch to your garden canvas.

Photos by Jeana Myers.

Jeana Myers, PhD, is the Horticulture Agent for Wake County. For gardening questions, contact the Extension Master Gardeners of Wake County at 919-250-1084 or email

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