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When my friend Barbara Sanderson, glass blower and owner of
Glass Gardens Northwest, describes adding her art to the garden, she likens it to putting on the sparkly jewelry that completes an outfit. And, she’s right. Glass art can add that little something extra to a garden, transforming any space into something particularly special. But, don’t wait until your garden is “finished” to start adding in bits of glittery glass. A garden is a living space, and it will never be done. Instead, start your collection early, and it will grow as your garden matures and transforms over the years.
Adding glass decorations to your garden can be as simple as tucking an inexpensive pond float into a birdbath or water feature. During spring and summer, floats provide gorgeous color, especially when surrounded by luscious green plants and moving water. If you don’t have a water feature, try mixing up a grouping of like-colored floats in your garden beds.
For striking results, try to compliment flower and foliage colors by choosing art that is similar or is on the opposite side of the color spectrum. Pepper gold spiky art throughout a dense, purple-leaf shrub. Dot in a few red orbs swirled with yellow in a perennial bed that blooms in complimentary hues. Pop in posts topped in blue glass through dense evergreen shrubs that bloom pink. Really, just let your artistic imagination run wild. There is no wrong way to add glassy goodness to your garden. Can’t decide? Pick out something in every color of the rainbow and move it around every day!
Glass adornments come in many shapes and forms, from simple float orbs to swirling spikes, from dainty flora to fauna forms. Glass designers are even producing gorgeous flower-like water feature varieties. Placed with care, each instantly fashions elements of surprise and tasteful vignettes throughout any garden.
Most gardeners want ornaments that can move and change as their gardens grow and change from season-to-season and year-to-year. Before you buy, ask your artist (or sales rep) if their support stakes are adjustable. Being able to add additional height over time will allow you dapple your art into mixed borders and continue to adjust them to the changing space as your plants mature. Plus, being able to insert several pieces at different spacing and alternating heights can make for a stunning installation. Even having the option to easily remove and re-insert a simple stand holding a little orb can make all the difference as the seasons come and go.
Glass is delicate, so be prepared to handle it carefully. Avoid hammering stands on stone or other hard surfaces. Be sure stakes and stands are well supported in the soil; sometimes adding reinforcing rebar inside a hollow metal stand can make all the difference. Come winter, be prepared to protect your art from freezing weather. Some art will withstand a freeze; much of it will not. In particular, be sure to remove any glass floats from water that might freeze. Tucking them into houseplant containers for winter is a great way to bring your garden indoors and ensure your bauble doesn’t break in the ice.
Of course, if a piece does break, take care cleaning it up from the garden right away – before shards sink into the soil and become a hazard. Fortunately, some clean breaks can be repaired with an application of weatherproof, clear epoxy. Check with your local glass blower for help before you try to make any repairs. Or, just look at that loss as an opportunity to buy yourself a new, shimmering bit of bling. If you’re at all like me, you can never have too many trinkets!