As in life, so am I when it comes to garden ornamentation: a relativist. (Even in my relativism, I’m with my pal Petronius, who said: All things in moderation, including moderation.)
Purists have it in for tchotchke, knickknacks or bric-a-brac in the garden. Let’s say, they have a low QQ (Quirk Quotient). As a relativist whose QQ borders on high, I say, if you like cute, go for it. It isn’t the what, but the how that counts.
My friend L-A has the right idea. She likes cute ornamental birdhouses. But rather than scattering them around the garden, she has a) created a cohesive collection, and b) grouped them for impact on a feature wall.
The effect is charming. It does what a good ornament in the garden is meant to to: draw the eye and give it a place to rest. It also makes a virtue of a long stretch of fencing beside her pool.
By contrast, in an otherwise attractive garden I saw on a recent tour, cute little oddments were regularly inserted every couple of feet; a mini inukshuk beside a Victorian-style plaque beside a smiling pottery frog. Unfortunately, this bitty approach distracted from the lovely garden. It was a bad case of bric-a-brac-arrhea.
Nobody’s perfect. For instance, it’s possible to cram way too many plants into a garden. I raise my hand here; yes, I am a plantaholic, working hard to curb my impulses. With plants, as with the rest of our garden décor, we’d all be wise to keep these verbs in mind: unify, edit, arrange – repeat.