Don’t you wish occasionally that you could just plant something and walk away? Never have to prune, water, feed, deadhead, divide, or replace when it turns up its toes? Then maybe I have an idea for you. What if I told you you could just about have it all? Year-long color and zero maintenance. Never have to reach for your snips because your garden addition would always be exactly what you put in the ground. I’d like to show you some ideas for additions to your garden that will last and last.
Metal flowers with a vintage or expressionistic look. I designed daffodils, ‘daisies,’ and lilies to intersperse among the real blooming plants in my garden border. I used a couple of artistic styles in the fabrication process to avoid any sameness. The copper daisy-like flowers behind the daffodils oxidized quickly, so they have a great patina already. And, because their centers serve as shallow bowls, they hold water for the occasional songbird. Also in this border beyond them, you’ll see some rust-colored lilies. The variation in these designs means the metal flowers fit in even better with the blooming annuals and perennials they live with. All I ever have to do is perhaps turn them, or reinsert the stems in the ground after a rain, for the right happy angle.
Variations of color add to the effect. I didn’t want flowers that were sprayed a uniform color, but did want a kind of vintage look and, even more importantly, colors that would both contrast and complement what was blooming in the bed. Painted in this manner, these daffodils seem both more lifelike and more cartoon-like. I’m not trying to fool anyone into thinking I have giant daffodils blooming in August, but I do want the casual observer to note how well these additions work with the hard-working bloomers around them. And how neighborly they also are.
The metal flowers also bring out the green around them. See that pink lily? Look at how the gradations of green seem to pop out at you. It’s not just about flowers; foliage can be highlighted as well when you mix up your plantings.
Not just beautiful. Also functional. The copper bloom nodding above its ‘real’ companions also serves a purpose; it holds a small amount of water to be used by any passing bird. Who needs a birdbath when a flower can do the work?
Water can bring out the best of metals used in the garden. I love little—unexpected—water features, and they’re easy to install and maintain. The color of this Vietnamese-made rain vessel the water streams into seemed to call out for these lotus leaves and pods. The shapes are right, the color perfect and complementary, and I’ve created a sort of pond with lotus and water. And don’t forget you receive another sensory nudge: burbling water. And copper always oxidizes into that great pale color.
Additions to your garden border don’t always have to be real, growing plants. You can augment what you have already with something that will last through the seasons, and requires no maintenance. Also injecting a bit of irony or fun in your garden will mean you—and your guests—will get more enjoyment from it. Something we sometimes forget: Gardens are not just meant for beauty; they are also meant for joy.
Live Life to the Fullest,
Chris H. Olsen