Teakettles are yet another wonderful collectible for the garden. Teakettles and gardens go together like tea parties and tea roses. They make playful and charming containers to splash a few vibrant annuals around the garden (just hammer a couple of nail holes in the bottom). I also display them as is near pots that need regular watering, where they dual purpose as watering cans.
I cannot recall a gardener that doesn’t love watering cans. Vessels that disperse life giving water supplement the garden in function and in form. Many of my functional watering cans start out doing big work, and then over the years retire to my rusted and vintage collection, to perch in quiet vignettes accompanying a birdhouse or some pots. The famous steadfast Haws watering can above (in red) may stay functionally elegant forever. Some vintage cans I picked up at auction were never operative in my garden, but they add richness, character, and interest, carrying spirits of gardens past, and they deserve a restful home! Of course watering cans can also add a splash of colour, or a quaint message. The copper ‘goddess pitcher’ as I call it, is included above as a non-traditional watering can - how peaceful and poetic to dip it into the rain barrel and wander about the garden offering drinks here and there.
Certainly plants are the best part of the garden, but ornamentation adds interest, surprise, texture, contrast to make the experience even richer. Above are some of my cherished ornamental additions. My gentle mama bird in quiet cream nestles in a part shade bed, often with some rounded stone eggs nearby. Each season she adopts a bit more green smudge from the garden. The romantic dancing couple in rugged concrete seem to twirl amongst the hostas (both of these sculptures are by the amazing Paul Chester, www.paulchester.com). Any fairy that rides a turtle and blows kisses has a home in my garden. And this rusty red sprite has traveled from ground to post to terra cotta pot depending on the year (from another awesome artist, Jean Pierre Schoss, www.dogbitesteel.com). So much personality in crazy hair, dancing arms and curly toes, always makes me smile – and that is the key to garden decoration! Check out more ideas here and here.
Chunks of wood in the garden add texture, contrast and height with a natural, gnarled flare! I am always sad to see an old tree come down, but do my best to recycle the rough and rugged pieces into the garden - be it as stools, tables, or sturdy bases to display treasures like the birdbath or large birdhouse above. Tucked into garden beds, chunks of wood make effective raised pedestals for pots of annuals, and the extra height is perfect for pots of trailing lobelia or fuchsia. They can take a beating, getting richer with weather and age. And the additional adornment of lichen, just melds them into the garden even more.
This birdbath was a wonderful gift over 10 years ago. It is made of concrete, and concrete that stays out over winter is a spectacular thing – no need to haul it in, and your garden gains instant ‘bones’. It is solid, grounded, weighty, enduring as the garden ever changes around it. It weathers to earn an aged patina that whispers of ancient, hidden gardens. Glazed ice encapsulates and enriches the pattern. I absorb all the garden detail I can before it is shrouded by big snow.
Winter arrangements are now popping up everywhere! If your time and budget don’t allow for an ornate, detailed approach, don’t be put off – a simple winter bouquet can be just as effective and gorgeous. The key is lots of greens. Whatever the size, your container wants to be overflowing and lush. Varying shades of green offer layers in texture and scent. Consider cedar, pine, spruce, juniper, boxwood, cotoneaster and more. This burst of green will warm your entrance with natural, simple elegance!
My arrangement above includes cedar, spruce, pine, cotoneaster, hydrangea, pinecones, russian sage for a little silver, and european snowball berries for a dash of red. The garden and nature are full of enchanting additions if you venture beyond simple green!
Natural elements are always my first choice for winter or holiday decorating, with pine cones being a favourite. Of course having a pine forest gives me a bias and no short supply! I have a nephew that loves pine cones. When he walks in our forest he dutifully collects all that he can carry (which doesn’t take long!), leaving them in precious piles when he can hold no more. This adoration makes me stop to really appreciate a pine cone. It is a miraculous little bundle with row upon row of wooden tongues that start green and tight as a pineapple, ripening to nutmeg brown to then spread and splay and release their papery seeds. Pine cones are perfect for collecting, decorating, or just admiring the masterfulness of nature.
Note – Canada has several cone producing trees, or conifers, not just pines! Spruce, fir, juniper, cedar, hemlock, cypress, tamarack and yews all produce cones. Pine cones are just the most popular for decorating and crafts.
Treasure should be defined by you – what stirs your emotion, what softens your face, what makes your garden feel intimate, cherished. It may be a rusted metal sprite, a concrete mushroom, a teapot spilling lobelia, or an angel amongst ruffled leaves. I favour the artisans that sculpt wondrous garden decoration from metal, wood, concrete, stones and more. Our town has a local art show in the park each summer where I can find stones fashioned into snails, mosaic birdbaths, eccentric birdhouses, and much fodder for garden ornamentation. And I turn to auctions for interesting objects, especially with my passion for rust, patinas and worn surfaces hinting at stories to tell. I have made cheerful finds at the dollar store or big box stores too – a gargoyle here, a Buddha there. I give preference to materials that can over-winter, to save the work of hauling them inside and that aged look is usually enhanced by winter exposure. If it gives you a smile, and a pause to savour the vignette, then it’s worth nestling into your garden.
The annuals in my front pots crumpled with frost, and it’s time for winter bouquets. I like my winter bouquets fairly simple. The bouquet below includes a classic mix of cedar and spruce boughs, artemisia, russian sage (both make silvery accents with the bonus of great scent), snowballs (Annabelle hydrangea), red dogwood branches and red berries (these from european snowball). If you don’t have a garden to forage (though you’d be surprised what even a small garden can offer - look for form, interesting seed heads, anything evergreen), local garden centers are full of offerings. Fresh evergreen boughs can simply stand alone, or have a little boost with berries, dried meadow flowers, sumac, coloured branches….what is your favourite addition?