Six objects—no chairs or pots among them—that can be relocated around the garden again and again to make it look revitalized.
SWITCH IT UP | Because so many elements of a garden’s design are fixed I sometimes like to shake things up by introducing objects that can be repositioned according to the season or to whim. In my own garden, I have three metal crows that travel from tabletop to fence top routinely, and two, old wooden obelisks that have at one time or another bunked in every quarter of my suburban lot.
In his garden in Herefordshire in England, the late interior and garden designer David Hicks manufactured more than a few outdoor surprises. One of the cleverest was a giant pyramid that rolled around the site on wheels. I have visited this garden a number of times and on each occasion I have spotted this pyramid in a different place. I cannot believe that I’ve never taken a snap of this feature, or been able to find even one shot of it when I search on the Internet. Luckily, the master himself refers to it (see reference at 5:05) in an interview he did with Rosemary Verey in 1993.
The last time I visited Valerie Murray’s garden in Victoria, which is a few years ago, I was struck by her bowling balls. Not literally, of course, but struck with surprise to find resin balls used for 10-pin bowling set out randomly among her perennial beds. Reflective, decorative balls like the ones pictured above were a common garden ornament in Victorian England (and remain popular today), and Murray’s substitution of bowling balls is a refreshing variation on this theme.
Old bowling balls can be found in thrift shops for next to nothing, which may help to explain why so many gardeners (not Murray, though; she prefers hers au natural) like to decorate them. HERE IS a Pinterest page with both attractive and over-the-top bowling bowl mosaics.
Speaking of spheres, if I were a rich man, I would purchase one or several of Martha Sturdy’s huge steel wire balls for my garden. They make me think of giant tumbleweeds or balls of twine that have had their insides removed so only the outer layers are visible. I would love to have these steel sculptures to roll around in my landscape.
Moveables—planters, sculpture, eccentric chairs, whatever— don’t have to be expensive, but they do have to be dramatic or the results won’t show, which would make the effort pointless.
“There is not excuse for a garden to be boring,” my late gardener friend Rosemary Verey once told me. Small or large, high impact moveables are an easy response to that. —Ron Rule
Ron Rule is a well-known residential garden designer in Vancouver. He is the founder and head of the Certificate In Garden Design program at the University of B.C.