Décor for an Arts & Crafts Garden

If there’s one overarching goal that all gardens of the Arts & Crafts movement sought, it was to blend in.

Proponents of Arts & Crafts garden design wanted their landscapes to connect not only with the homes they were attached to, but also with their natural surroundings. The use of native plants and wildflowers, along with uncomplicated layouts, helped achieve this ideal.

Ornamentation also had its place in the Arts & Crafts garden, albeit in very subtle form. When looking for products to embellish your own garden, simplicity should be the name of the game. Forget ornate iron benches, elaborate trellises, and fancy ornamental planters. In the Arts & Crafts garden, as in the homes from the era, clean lines and unfussy patterns reign supreme.

While there are a few faithful reproductions out there (Henry Hall Designs, for example, makes a teak bench that’s an exact replica of one from a garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll), as well as a few inspired homages (Jekyll gets her due again in a simple terracotta planter by potter Guy Wolff), the majority of decor for Arts & Crafts gardens will defy categorization. Photos of period gardens are a helpful resource (a curved bench, for example, calls to mind the distinctive serpentine one that graces the garden at Dumbarton Oaks), as are decorative objects of the era that feature garden motifs (a hexagonal birdhouse mimics one featured on a C.F.A. Voysey wallpaper sample, while a baluster birdbath echoes a fountain depicted on a Grueby tile). Help your ornamentation blend in with the natural environment by selecting items that have an aged appearance, or will easily gain one (such as antique cobblestones or a bronze planter that will develop a worn patina after a few weather cycles). When it comes to larger items like pergolas, gazebos, and gates, look for simple but eye-catching designs, and always choose sizes that are appropriate to the scale of your house.

Check out our photo gallery below to get your search started, but remember that the best choices for your Arts & Crafts garden will be ones that forge a connection to your home and its surroundings. After all, blending in is what it’s all about.

Tags: | Online Exclusive arts & crafts Clare M. Alexander gardens OHJ July/August 2008 Old-House Journal

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