A Guide to Garden Statuary
Elegant, artful, and always on cue, outdoor statuary brings life to the garden in more ways than one
There is no doubt that the majesty of beautiful plants can be awe-inspiring. But sometimes we can get lost in the size of a garden or it might seem lacking in personality, which is just the time to take a closer look at outdoor garden statues. Garden statuary has been used for nearly as long as gardens have been in existence. Historians believe that statues of animals strategically stood guard to ward off unwanted visitors to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Sculpted marble statues honored gods in elaborate Greek gardens. Italian monasteries produced such amazing works of art that it is widely believed that they helped launch the Renaissance period.
Statues of musicians reside within each of four parterres. A statue of an elegant lady waits at the end of the main garden aisle. Photo by Edward Badham
In my garden, depictions of the Four Seasons are part of the crowd when I have an outdoor party. Their scale helps the first guests feel welcome, as if they are not the only ones present. They also serve as an unspoken boundary. I find it is amazing how everyone remains in that garden room, not venturing out into the adjacent formal lawn.
Garden statues not only bring a sense of boundary and scale, they also help define the personality of a garden. Whatever feeling you would like your garden to communicate, achieve it through the strategic use of garden statuary. A statue of Apollo can bring in a sense of masculinity, or a statue of St. Francis of Assisi can provide a playful reverence.
My advice to anyone looking to add character to their garden: Browse local antiques stores and garden centers for the statue that will suit your personality and garden aesthetic perfectly.
See More Garden Statues in the Slideshow:
A cherub in Ryan Gainey's garden holds a container of violets. For this antique wire basket, Gainey scooped a clump of violets from the ground to achieve a look perfectly arranged by nature. Photo by Jeffrey Lee Adler See More of this Garden
"Leitzl" sculpted by Dan Corbin, flanked by espaliered pears, stands in stark contrast to the garden wall in this Sea Island, Georgia garden. Photo by Julia LynnSee More of this Garden
Nashville's Cheekwood Estate and Gardens includes sweeping 55 acres divided into 11 gardens filled with a variety of statuary like this ornate urn standing among the greenery. Photo by Cassidy Carson
A David Harber armillary sphere emblazoned with the phrase, “There is a time and place for everything” offers direction in a Sea Island, Georgia garden. Photo by Julia LynnSee More of this Garden
The 1739 William Elliott House's garden is filled with hall-like paths punctuated with doorways formed by arbors and iron gates. Here, the gates open to a fountain and statue of Pan in the pleasure garden. Photo by Julia LynnSee More Historic Charleston Gardens
This Amsterdam garden reflects the light touch and contemporary sensibilities of its owners, Hans Kos and Rutger Brandt, and abounds with tongue-in-cheek art and sculpture that peeks out from leafy corners. Here, a Saskia Pfaeltzer sculpture sits atop a rock. Photo by Tom ElstSee more Secret Gardens of Amsterdam
A terra-cotta maiden oversees a French-style garden created by Nashville firm Page Duke Landscape Architects, and their principal partner, Ben Page. Photo by John ChiassonSee More Ben Page Gardens
This classic example of an Amsterdam garden takes cues from French designs with decorative sculpture, water features, and seating areas. Photo by Tom ElstSee More Secret Gardens of Amsterdam
Landscape designer Troy Rhone employs focal points in the form of containers, statuary, and armillary spheres in his spaces. Photo by Edward BadhamSee More of Troy Rhone's Gardens
Landscape architect Hugh Dargan worked with homeowners to re-create much of the 18th-century garden by restoring the parterres and spaces, laying them out to open onto a central focal point—a sculpture from the late 1700s. Photo by Julia LynnSee More Historic Charleston Gardens
Castor and Pollux were re-cast in bronze from an original bronze rescued by Architectural Accents' Charles Nevinson from an undisclosed City of London building. Photo by Julia LynnSee More of this Garden
This stately statue serves as a focal point in the parterre garden, one of three formal gardens at Weatherstone, Carolyne Roehm's Connecticut home. Photo by Carolyne Roehm from At Home in the Garden
(Potter Style, 2015). See More of this Garden
Aristide Maillol’s statue La Rivière looks up to a Seal Harbor sky from a rich assemblage of ground covers on a landing below the main terrace at Skylands, Martha Stewart’s summer getaway on the coast of Maine.See More of Skylands
By Troy Rhone
Outdoor Spaces and Gardens We Love