Some gardens are built entirely to showcase a collection of sculpture. But in a garden whose collection is mainly the plants, a little sculpture still makes a pleasant contrast.
My artiest sculpture is a pair of black metal frog silhouettes, who dance at the ends of two long, curved copper wands a find at the Sharon Arts Center in Peterborough, NH. The springy supports add motion to the view.
Often a modest budget limits choice to the stereotyped and corny. However you can still find something to your taste if you culltivate whimsy. One time I acquired at yard sales a collection of small, bright-colored plastic toys. The purple stegosaurus found its jungle under an arching spray of calamintha; the yellow car full of Muppets parked just off a path, ready to pull out into it.
A rather realistic plastic snake made, I think, to frighten birds away from crops lived for a few years coiled up, partly under a plant, a few feet from the main path. Often visitors would gasp at first sight of it, and then laugh to realize they'd been fooled.
It's risky giving someone else sculpture for their garden, taste in this art form is so individual. For example I can't stand gazing balls, those metallic globes people put on stands to reflect the garden but I like birdbaths... er, some birdbaths.
So I carefully commented to Ward (a bear aficionado) that I could find a place for a chainsaw-sculpture bear in my garden. He followed through with a detailed, forty-inch tall, painted wooden bear that had been started with a chainsaw. But after this bear dubbed "Lewis" stood in the house a few months, Ward reneged on settling him in the garden, out of concern that Lewis would "run off." I don't know about that, but he certainly would have aged faster out in the weather.
My favorite garden sculpture has aged severely over her ten-year residence at the back corner of my garden: a scarecrow who sports a pointed witch hat, wears a skirt with a cat design, and wields a twiggy broom. She came from a crafts fair on Townsend Common. I just renovated her straw, and gave her a new (old) shirt. But I tried not to lose that ragged look: the more I feel my age, the more I appreciate the character of weatherbeaten things.
© Copyright 2002 Catherine Holmes Clark