Sunday, June 24, 2012

Repositionable Garden Decor, or How to Make the Most of a Few Good Pieces

To further expand on last week's floral suggestions for your Gothic Mourning Garden, this week one would like to bring up the topic of garden decor. As has been previously mentioned, the grounds surrounding the Gothic Mansion are almost half an acre, and while a good portion of that is consumed by the Mansion itself, there remains a substantial amount left to fill with plants and garden fixtures. Because of this, locations for the ornamentation have been carefully chosen to provide the most impact, generally in areas of the highest use.

To begin, the side entry to the front yard, which has been prettied up for the Fedex, DHL and UPS delivery people, in the hope it provides enough of a distraction they won't notice how far it is to the front door. The concrete bird bath is quite heavy and is one of the few fixtures that stay in the same location year-round, looking equally lovely in the winter covered with three feet of snow. An attempt was made to match the new fence post finials to the weathered fence by staining them grey, but as is apparent from the photo, that didn't work quite as planned. It has been tossed around that maybe the posts should also be stained, but since it's really only noticeable in the winter after the Virginia Creeper has died back, perhaps not really that necessary after all.  

Side Entry, Facing West

Side Entry, Facing East

Another area chosen for the display of a large amount of garden decor is around the pond, as a good portion of a nice day can be wasted away watching the Koi, likely a sure sign of one's advancing age. Besides the Koi, one can also watch the two cement gryphons, the two sections of rusted fleur-de-lys fencing, and the two gazing balls. Although the insomniac  has an unexplainable aversion to displays of even numbered objects, two gazing balls and two sections of fence were all the budget allowed for, and only two of the available griffins were appealing. Why does it seem that finding a decent looking gryphon these days is so difficult? And when one actually manages to locate something suitable, they're generally far too expensive for those of us on a limited budget. These two were purchased at the local Calgary Farmer's Market, at a very respectable price.

Gryphon I

Gryphon II, Gazing Ball II

Along with the Gryphon Display is the Body-less Head Display, each with a small Gothic-looking iron stake as a backdrop. And although one hasn't exactly investigated the following theory in depth, it would seem likely that garden centres would be thrilled to rid themselves of broken or headless statuary that only appeal to those with, shall we say, Darker Tastes.

Spot the cherub's head ...

Mirrors really are a wonderful idea in the garden, and should be positioned to reflect a beautiful view. Both of the following examples picked up at garage sales, which seems appropriate since they're both currently hanging on the side of the garage.

Garage Sale Mirror I

Garage Sale Mirror II

Next is a Faerie Condominium, built by the spouse so as to avoid having to deal with a stump uprooted from somewhere on the grounds. The creation of the Condo also managed to use up some old door plates and knobs at the same time, thereby putting a small dent in the spouse's Collection of Useful Stuff saved in the garage (and  the shed, and  the basement). As you can see by the sagging verandas on the condo and the bird-feeder's state of disrepair, one should never rent to squirrels - after a few fermented berries they become extremely unruly, and on the whole make very bad tenants.

Started out as a Faerie Condo,
but currently used by the
squirrels as a Jungle Gym ...

Another rental property
destroyed by the tenants ...

The insomniac  has a difficult time throwing anything away, which explains why the bird-feeder ended up on the ground as another piece of garden decor, and how the original fireplace surround from the Gothic Mansion ended up rusting at the back of the shed, adding (one hopes) to the ambiance of graceful decay one is attempting to create in the garden. The spouse is threatening to add a door of some sort to the surround, muttering to himself about “portals to the Faerie world”, or something along those lines ... 

Former Fireplace Surround

Broken items or unused pieces of pottery all eventually end up somewhere in the garden, and nothing looks nicer than inexpensive terracotta pots displayed on mismatching saucers and filled with flowers, preferably in black, white or purple (see last week's post below).

Broken Finial

Unused Soup Tureen

These next two pieces were leftover props from a movie that was filmed on location at the Gothic Mansion a few years ago, donations always being welcome, but quite honestly would be very easy to create with scrap pieces of wood, a hammer, and many, MANY nails. Although the arbour is a stationary piece because of its size, the trellis has been moved so many times that one has finally lost count.



Another well-used area is just outside the kitchen door, where the Summer Barbecuing Rituals are performed, and provides the spouse with somewhere to rest while waiting for the meat to char. The Victorian iron table was purchased at a neighbourhood yard sale, but went for much higher than your average yard sale price. The insomniac  was planning on repainting the entire set black this year and even went so far as to purchase the spray paint, but is now having second thoughts and might just repaint everything in Windham Cream to match the trim on the Gothic Mansion. The lighter colour really does show up against the green foliage and grey flagstones very nicely.

If you're interested in a set of these chairs with matching table,
please contact the insomniac  and she'll order some for you ...

A small cast iron chair inherited from the insomniac's  parents which was, of course, white. That year the veranda floor was being repainted in Battleship Grey with Midnight Black on the baseboards, and since the colours were already on the paintbrushes, the chair was given a quick brush of grey and the black wiped on afterwards. That was seven years ago and only a few tiny spots of white have just started to reappear. Obviously, enamel porch floor paint is a good choice for redoing white patio furniture.

Chair and black urn, currently  tucked into a corner
of the stairs leading to the garage. For the time being ...

The following is an interior shot of the gazebo. Depending on the size of the patio party  and the time of day it occurs, the small cast iron table, the Gothic Crown Lanterns and the ever present Black Urn are moved in and out of the gazebo. The wicker furniture is at least twenty years old and was spray painted chestnut brown last year. Next year, probably black ...

That little black urn goes just about everywhere in the garden,
and at the end of the summer season will be brought inside ...

Most of the garden elements are chosen for their durability, concrete and cast iron being favourites in this climate. And despite evidence to the contrary, the insomniac  does not paint everything black. Depending on what they're showcased alongside of, sometimes white, cream or rusted finishes display much better in the garden.

Rusted Finish Lantern Set

A small rusty table, chair and sofa, where the Beverage of the Day is consumed once the sun is over the yardarm (the time of day after which it becomes acceptable to partake of alcoholic beverages). You may recognize the table from the previous display; that table definitely makes its rounds throughout the garden, depending on where the party ends up.  

Very eagerly awaiting the arrival of Apothic White in Canada ...

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams ... and since the bottle of Apothic Red is already out for the “photo shoot” and the sun is definitely over the yardarm, it would seem the most responsible course of action is to make short work of it. Goodnight, my pretties.



  1. Amazing garden! I love how you have decorated it and with lot of places to sit down and enjoy the sight of it. I've lived in my house for 3 years and recently started my journey. I use most of my time to work in my vegetable garden.

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words! Although truthfully, most (okay, all!) of the credit must go to the insomniac's spouse, who does all the hard work. Good luck with the creation of your garden - for those of us who only get two month's worth of summer enjoyment, it really is a labour of love, isn't it?