Toronto landscape architect Martin Wade and Chester, Nova Scotia, garden designer Logie Cassells know a thing or two about art in the garden. Wade’s “Filter” garden at Montreal’s International Flora Festival is a work of art, and as part of Team Nova Scotia, Cassell’s Chic Garden garnered a Bronze Flora award at the renowned Chelsea Flower Show in 2005. With a keen eye for the genre, Wade and Cassells share their tips on using art in the garden.
Personal style “Pick something with a personal connection,” says Wade. “Garden art doesn’t have to be sculpture; it might be a found object or something less formal.”
Perfect pairings Like the now passé notion that meat dishes must be accompanied by red wine, and fish and chicken by white wine, says Wade, barriers are (thankfully) being broken down about matching artwork to the garden’s style. There’s no reason why a classical piece of art cannot be placed in a contemporary garden. “However, think about how the art will be paired with the garden. You wouldn’t choose a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon for a delicate fish appetizer—it would be overpowering.”
Budget-wise Cassells encourages do-it-yourselfers to take a note from Japanese garden style, for instance, by creating an inexpensive sculpture using standing stones. In his own garden, Cassells gets great pleasure from a colourful but simple string of Tibetan prayer flags.
The view from here “Think about how you would like to view the art,” says Wade. Consider whether it will be seen from the house year-round or if it will be hidden in a secret spot in the garden. Will it be viewed from only one side or from many? Does the object need to be shown off on a pedestal?
Before buying a costly piece, such as an Italian urn, Cassells advises experimenting with a less-expensive stand-in to check the scale and establish just the right placement. (Check out our slideshow of pretty planters for some great ideas!)