Find your Inner Artist

A stone cairn designed by local artist Luke DeLatour has special significance. Photo credit; Ashley Ross Markley

A stone cairn designed by local artist Luke DeLatour has special significance. Photo credit; Alyson Ross Markley

I'll be the first one to tell you that I'm not an artist. I can't draw a straight line let alone anything that resembles an apple and my landscape sketches are….well let's just say that there is a reason I use the computer for my design work. However I can 'paint' with plants.

There have been times when I've looked at a section of the garden and seen that it needed something but not necessarily another plant. Often the solution is something as simple as setting an empty container into the border or a small piece of garden art. Those finishing touches both enhance the garden and are enhanced by it.

Buying fun pieces for the garden – containers, statuary and glass art for example is the easy part. Knowing where and how to place them is trickier. Let's face it, how many times have you made an impulse buy then spent hours walking around the garden trying to decide where to put it?


To take the mystery away – and to give you an excuse for a strategic shopping adventure I'm hosting a fun event in our garden on August 2nd called Meet the Artist – Become the Artist.

As well as having the opportunity to meet two of my favorite local artists – Jesse Kelly (glass artist) and Luke DeLatour (sculpture) you are welcome to enjoy a presentation I will be giving on how to

  • enhance your gardens,
  • add style to containers,
  • solve your design dilemmas and
  • add year round interest to your gardens using garden art.
  • I'll also teach you the principles behind designing artistic vignettes and focal points to help you gain confidence in your own garden.

We'll have lots of examples to inspire you and of course we'll all be happy to answer any questions you may have.

For those of you who live too far away to join us, and as a 'teaser' for those closer to home here are three key things I look for when choosing art for the garden as well as two test questions every piece must pass!


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Glass art by Jesse Kelly

Do I want the piece to become  a major focal point or is this more of a 'garden moment' – a smaller piece intended to be discovered while strolling the garden paths?

When we chose the glass sculpture for our front garden we knew it had to be a real statement piece. It is seen from multiple vantage points which therefore meant that the piece also had to look good from all angles. Since this is a 5 acre property we needed something that wouldn't get lost when viewed from a distance yet not overwhelm our modest home. Jesse did a great job of working with our color scheme and criteria and the results speak for themselves.

Question 1. Does the art enhance the garden?

Yes it does by creating a powerful focal point

Question 2. Is the art enhanced by the garden?


Glass art by Jesse Kelly

Definitely. The color repetition is key here with many flowers and leaves echoing the shades of blue, chartreuse and purple found in the glass. I especially love the spiky sea holly (Eryngium 'Sapphire Blue') which is the perfect counterpoint to the smooth surface of the containers while alluding to the spiky form of the glass.


Why are you putting that piece there? "Because it fits" is not the appropriate answer!

Some of the most powerful garden art vignettes I have seen are the simplest.


This example is one of my favorites – I only wish I could take credit for it! Notice how the shape of the glass repeats that of the foliage of the hardy impatiens (Impatiens omeiana) and how the colors tie in to those of the adjacent autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora). Perfect scale, color and shape – this definitely relates to its surroundings

Question 1. Does the art enhance the garden?

Yes because it makes us stop and appreciate the beauty of a shade perennial that we might otherwise miss

Question 2. Is the art enhanced by the garden?

Yes the colors and shapes of the surrounding foliage focuses attention on the glass

The X-Factor

Sometimes a piece just speaks to us – that's usually why we impulse buy in the first place.

Cairns are an ancient way to denote a path or memorial site.

Cairns are an ancient way to denote a path or memorial site.

When I first saw these stone cairns by Luke they took me back to walking the footpaths of England where stone stacks are often used as trail markers. That gave me the idea to use them in a very special memorial garden I designed for a client. I placed a set of three at an intersection in the pathway, indicating the way to a quiet bench. The carved eye in the tallest stack literally and figuratively focused attention.

I suggest placing these as trail markers along a shady garden path or as an exclamation point emerging from a large hosta.

Question 1. Does the art enhance the garden?

Yes – it is seen as being part of the garden itself since the river rocks are quarried locally (I have plenty in my own garden!)

Question 2. Is the art enhanced by the garden?

Yes, if sited well the stacked rocks seem to have a purpose as well as visual appeal

But of course there is so much more to it than that so why don't you join us in August? Read all the details and find out how to register here. Space is limited so don't delay!

We look forward to helping you Become the Artist.

For more ways to use glass art in the garden read The Magpie Effect

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  1. Alyson on June 24, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    I will be there!! This is going to be a phenomenal event, Can't wait!!!!

  2. Karen Chapman on June 24, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    So glad you are free to come Alyson!

  3. When Gardens and Glass Talk on August 4, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    […] so that both the art and the garden are enhanced. You can read more about the event and artists here, but I  have been asked so many times in the past 24 hours to post pictures on Facebook that I […]