Art can bring a personal touch to your garden and is just as important there as on the walls of your home. With careful placement, art adds...

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Art can bring a personal touch to your garden and is just as important there as on the walls of your home. With careful placement, art adds drama and meaning to your outdoor space.

Here are some tips and ideas for creating a personal garden gallery. Choose carefully. Art can set the mood in your garden; pieces can range from realistic to abstract and be serious or whimsical. As well as being an expression of the artist, the piece will also reflect you and your sensibility. Select a work that can stand up to the weather, be it a sculpture, fountain, pot or wall plaque.

Use art to organize the garden layout. Think of art as an exclamation point that adds emphasis to part of the garden. Place a fountain at the end of a path to create a destination, or across a lawn to draw your eye. A sculpture placed outside a window will give you a point of interest from the house.

Where to find art


Most nurseries carry objects suitable for gardens. Art galleries also often have pieces suitable for outdoor placement. Here are a few of the many local specialty shops that offer treasures:

Il Giardino Garden Art: This Ballard shop has a wide range of art along with furniture and pots. 5810 24th Ave. N.W., Seattle; 206-783-1663 or www.northwestgardenart.com.

Lucca Statuary: Specializes in cast stone fountains, pots and statuary. 3623 Leary Way N.W., Seattle; 206-789-8444 or www.luccastatuary.com.

Little and Lewis: This garden gallery is owned by artists George Little and David Lewis on Bainbridge Island. The artists collaborate to produce concrete sculptures inspired by forms in nature. The site is open by appointment. Directions to the gallery are provided with reservations. 206-842-8327 and www.littleandlewis.com.

Bassetti’s Crooked Arbor: A display garden and nursery featuring sculptures by Northwest artists throughout the grounds. They are open from April to September. However, you can get a peek at the garden gallery on the Web site. 18512 N.E. 165th, Woodinville; 425-788-6767 or www.bassettisgardens.com.

Art can be used to create the axis and cross axis of classical design. The main axis can be a path that runs from a door or other viewpoint to a work of art. Create a cross axis by adding a path at right angles, with each end of the path anchored by works of art.

If you divide a garden into smaller spaces — the concept of garden rooms — use a piece of art to give character to each one. The art can be placed so it dominates the space, visible from all parts, or be hidden from some angles so that it becomes a surprise when found.

Art can be underfoot. Mosaics can add ornamentation to what would otherwise be lackluster paving. Some artists specialize in creating stone rugs, stone intricately placed together to resemble a patterned carpet.

Fountains are a classic form of art in gardens; think of those at Versailles. A fountain in a garden adds sound and movement to the usual qualities of a work of art. Freestanding fountains can go in the center of a courtyard. Wall fountains add interest to what might otherwise be a featureless wall.

Set off an art object by placing it on a base. Raising it can give the object more presence. Fabricate a simple base with a stack of square pavers or build one out of stones and hold them together with mortar, available from building supply stores.

A piece of art in your garden can bring a sense of timelessness, a foil to the plants and a point of stability in the ever-changing seasons.

Phil Wood has a degree in landscape architecture and designs and builds gardens. Send questions to thegardendesigner@seattletimes.com. Sorry, no personal replies.