Although garden art is not new, the concept of using non-organic pieces to make one’s garden aesthetically pleasing has really gained popularity in the last decade or so.
Whether they’re using brightly colored pots or installing a fountain, more people are investing time and money to beautify their yards.
There are a number of things that can be credited for this increase — one of which is the recession.
Jeannine James, assistant manager for West Seattle Nursery, said this is because people are staying home more and spending less on travel and vacations. As a result, they are nesting and using that travel money toward home improvements.
“They’re making their worlds beautiful,” she said. “They’re investing in themselves. I think it’s a great thing.”
Jim Honold, owner of Home & Garden Art in Ballard, said another reason for garden art’s recent rise in popularity could be people’s appreciation for individual identity. People want to cultivate a space of their own and create a safe haven.
“It’s also fun,” he added.
So, what is garden art?
Everyone has their own definition, but James describes it as hardscape in the world of plants. This can mean pots, fountains, statues and even decorative rocks. Simply put, garden art is anything that is not a plant, used to enhance a garden visually.
Because garden art reflects an individual’s personality, Honold said, styles range from tasteful and classic, keeping with a specific design movement, to whimsical and weird.
“It’s your garden, and you can put anything you want in it,” he said. “It’s what you like. It’s your domain, no rules.”
Home & Garden Art specializes in recycled metal art, which Honold said does very well. They sell roosters, goats, pigs and other animals made from recycled-metal car parts and 55-gallon oil drums that often feature logos of the metals used. These pieces are stand-alone structures that can be easily moved around and have a lot of personality and color.
One piece Honold’s store has become known for is an 8-foot-tall rooster comprised of recycled metal, which he said
Home & Garden
is the most interesting piece of garden art he has seen. Honold picked up the rooster on a trip to Texas, where he gets all of Home & Garden Art’s recycled animals.
Art from recycled materials is definitely a popular trend at West Seattle Nursery right now, but James said people also like anything handmade because they appreciate things made in the United States. Both James’ and Honold’s respective stores sell pieces of garden art created by local artists. Flea markets and open markets are another place to find handmade pieces by local and regional artists.
James added that water features such as fountains and waterfalls are and always have been in because they help create calmness as people construct these spaces of their own. She said water features are timeless, remembering how her grandparents’ gardens had one.
“I would love a water feature [for my own garden],” she said. “They’re beautiful.”
In the Northwest, particularly, bright colors — from pots to hand-blown glass — are also big because they counterbalance the often-gray weather. Lisa Crabtree from City People’s Garden Store in Madison Valley said that, in addition to color, their customers enjoy quirky pieces.
“Colorful and whimsical pieces have done really well,” she said.
While the recession has had people investing more in their gardens, it has also affected what they’re buying. James, Crabtree and Honold all agree that fewer people are taking on larger projects and purchasing higher-priced items. Instead, they are gravitating more toward smaller, less expensive items.
Crabtree said that smaller-scale pieces have definitely sold better at City People’s in recent years.
“I think it’s fair to say the recession has strongly affected large installation pieces,” she said.