A Place to Sit

sit91If you are a like me, you do not sit much in your garden.  I can always find a weed to pull or something to stake, trim, or otherwise fuss with.  But as I subscribe to the notion that a landscape is a place to be, a place to sit seems like a very good idea.  A place to take a break, to contemplate your future, to watch the birds, to have a glass of tea-excellent.

sit10We make this scrolled steel furniture, galvanize it, and acid wash it.  It has the look of lead, that blue grey with a white bloom.  This furniture is amazingly comfortable for being made of steel. I think it is very good looking and  appropriate in either a traditional or contemporary setting.  But most of all I like that it looks like garden furniture-and not the furniture I have in my living room.  

sit11In the past few years I have seen plenty of garden furniture, made from weatherproof materials, that looks like indoor furniture; this does not appeal to me.  I like everything in the garden, to look like it belongs there.   Thus I prefer my sofa in my living room, and not on my terrace.  I very much like these 18th century Coalbrookdale chairs, in the nasturtium pattern.  They look like they were made for a garden.

sit13This is an early 20th century French faux bois bench.  Literally translated, faux bois means false wood.  The bench is concrete over a steel armature, that was carved to look like wood.  I doubt it is a place you would want to sit for long,  but it most definitely is a lovely place to sit and enjoy a garden moment. It is just as lovely as a garden ornament. 

sit1Pool furniture almosts asks for cushions.  Hot steel and bare legs is not such a good combination.  Be sure if you buy of have cushions made for your garden furniture, that they are constructed using exterior foam, which drains quickly and dries out.  Hauling cushions inside when there is a threat of rain is a nuisance.  The technology of new  fabrics rated for exterior use is considerable.  These fabrics are sunfast, and mildew resistant.  This suite of furniture looks like a cool spot to sit on a hot day.

sit2Not so fancy, but plenty charming are vintage American garden chairs.  I like everything about them-the shapes, the old paint, and the rust and how they rock.  They are easy to find a spot for, and they are easy to move to another spot, should you have a mind to.

sit3This very fine iron furniture comes from a small company in England.  The black and white checked fabric on the cushions is very smart looking, and elegant.

sit5This very old English wood bench has great style; the spindle back and the curved arms are very handsome.  The yews and pots do a great job of highlighting its form.  It is a friendly size .

sit15The chaise lounge is a bed for the garden.  Its scale and size makes it stand out in the landscape; the grouping suggests the company of friends and family.  White fabric in the garden looks as fresh and crisp as white flowers. I cannot imagine using a chaise, but I like looking at them.

sit7Stripes seem especially appropriate for a garden too.  Reminiscent of vintage awnings, they are inviting and pleasing to the eye.  These chairs are great for an extended visit in a garden.

sit14A place to sit in a garden is an essential element of landscape design.  Plan where you will sit in your landscape with as much care as you plan what you will see when you sit there.

Sculpture in the Garden-an Addendum

Sculpture in a garden is a big topic, which I am sure will surface again and again in my writings.  Defining a sculpture can be very much about the environment in which it is placed.  It is my opinion that some sculpture absolutely relies on its environment,  in order to earn the the honored designation-sculpture.  Some sculpture I see in galleries, or museums, I would never see as sculpture-but for the gallery or museum address. Some landscape sculpture has been documented in photographs- often this sculpture is more about the moment of the photograph, than the sculpture itself. I own every book ever published about the work of Andy Goldsworthy-but many of his sculptures are ephemeral such that they are not really sculpture in a classical sense.  The photographs of his works are as much art as the works themselves. But his work makes me rethink my definitions-this is a good thing to come from looking at art.   I buy books regularly, and I read a lot.  Its exciting to see contemporary garden sculpture-what a departure it is from classical sculpture. As I am willing to be surprised, I try to temper my sense of sculpture with a big dose of what I see, and what I am asked to do.  This seems to work.   



Earth sculptures have a huge history; what gardener does not know something about crop circles?  What 20th century landscape designer has not given serious thought to sculptures of earth, covered in some living skin?  What landscape designer, since the day that someone thought to design landscapes, doesn’t see when the landscape transcends horticulture and becomes sculpture?  What gardener has not been interested in Stonehenge, and every Stonehedge counterpart documented world wide?   I am not a first rate scholar on the history of garden sculpture-I am just a somewhat educated landscape designer with a big interest in garden sculpture.


I am strictly a supporting cast, where the sculpture of my clients is concerned.  I look at what they buy, and if I am lucky, they will pile things up, move things around-and talk about what moves them. 


Contrary to the garden sculpture placed in Europe ever since the formal garden got its name, some sculptures are ephemeral, moveable-here today-elsewhere tomorrow. These Belgian hazelwood spheres, piled up into a boxwood hedge-who does not appreciate the gesture?



These birds once graced the roof of the Palais Royale in Paris. This would be the better part of two centuries ago.  What remains of them is their wrought iron armatures, and their hand-wrought feet.  This pair of ancient birds are the most spectacular sculptures I have ever seen.  They have such incredible presence, though little remains of their original shape.  They are so powerful in their shape and their bearing , though little of their ornament remains.  What landscape would do justice to them?