Choosing Sculpture for the Garden


By placing art or sculpture in a garden you extend the reach of the house as you create a visual destination or focal point which can encourage engagement with the outside landscape. A piece of sculpture in a garden context also creates an intriguing juxtaposition between the sophisticated man made object and the ever changing natural environment that surrounds it.

Here, David Harber offers advice on factors to consider when selecting your chosen piece.

Quiver sculpture in a small garden setting
  • 1. What would you recommend for smaller spaces/what would you advise for larger spaces?

    A smaller garden benefits from something reflective, mirroring its environment and thereby creating a feeling of space and adding light.
  • With larger spaces we are more likely to be in the garden, and as such a piece can be a distant destination focal point extending the view, or something that one stumbles upon in more intimate parts of the garden.
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Chalice water feature in a large landscape
Stone Dark Planet sphere in scale with its garden surroundings
  • 2. What practical things should people consider when choosing a piece of sculpture?

    When commissioning or buying a piece of sculpture for a specific garden location it's important to have a clear idea of scale. A piece seen in a gallery could be dwarfed in a garden.
  • There is the issue of how it might be lit at night, and often overlooked is the access and installation requirements.
Dark Planet sphere illuminated at dusk
Armillary sundial amongst informal flowers
  • 3. How can planting complement sculptures and art?

    A sculpture in a garden can be like an actor on a stage who requires a backdrop and a scene. Whilst it may be the focal point it is the quality of the planting that can really create an overall picture, be it an ethereal background...
  • ...or a classical monotone yew hedge that acts as a backdrop, possibly to a highly reflective piece.
Armillary sundial in a formal garden
Torus sculpture with green reflections

4. Which of your sculptures do you think is the most versatile?

I am always amazed by how beautifully the Torus complements and enhances its environment, I describe it as a piece without ego, whilst it is resolute and bold, it is entirely the reflections of the garden captured within the piece that are its drama and joy.

Steel Breeze sculpture reflecting vivid flowers
Verdigris bronze Quill sculpture
  • 5. Which sculpture materials are the best? Do some metal colours work better than others in certain environments?

    The warmth and richness of patinated bronze, particularly the rich greens and blues in Verdigris bronze, invariably harmonise with the diverse colours of a garden and the natural tones of nature.
  • The same is true of the dynamic russet hues of oxidized steel.

    On the other hand, a bold primary colour can be more difficult to link to a planting palette.
Mild steel Quill sculpture


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