Friday Idea File: A touch of glass

Look what’s being served as an appetizer on the glass-top table in this contemporary, east-Toronto garden!

Could be the icy weather but, for this Friday’s Idea File, I’m thinking about glass (in French, ice is the sound-alike glace). Mirrors are one of my favourite uses for glass in a garden. They expand a small space, creating a door or window to an imaginary other world, whether on a fence or in a gazing ball. One of the more interesting mirrors seen on my garden travels is this one, a pierced and scored art piece from the 2007 International Garden Festival at Jardins de Métis. And how about that mirror-topped table, capturing the sky like an unruffled reflecting pool?

Now read on for further suggestions. Hope you’ll take a shine to them, and perhaps suggest more

Why not make flowers from vintage dinnerware. Melissa at The Empress of Dirt has a great recipe for making your own. And, of course, there’s a glimpse of that southern tradition (and growing trend), the bottle tree.
Use glass chips as mulch – like these ruby-toned ones, colour-coordinated with the planter.
Glass icicles by transplanted Canadian, Barbara Sanderson of Glass Gardens Northwest. Alison Conliffe’s Bonney Lassie blog has a nice feature on Sanderson crafting pieces like these, plus more examples of her glass art. And if you’re looking for something perhaps closer, this link to the Canadian Association of Glass Artists website takes you to a visual guide for Canadian glass artists across the country, many of whom take private commissions. I was particularly taken by this series by Toronto artist Cali Balles – if not for the garden, then to bring the garden indoors. Please, Santa?
Or, if you want a simple but effective DIY glass installation, this idea from the garden of Lorene Edwards Forkner, author of Handmade Garden Projects, couldn’t be simpler.
These are floating glass balls, again by Barbara Sanderson. But, if a pond is lacking, why not float them in a sea of green?
Or toss a handful or two of glass blobs or marbles amongst the pea gravel or river stone – again, to match the the pot.
What would you call the colour of these glass screens at the Toronto Botanical Garden? Turquoise? Beach-glass? Whatever name you give it, it’s a stunning backdrop for the reds and golds of paperbark maples and autumn grasses. And – on the other side – deep green spikes of horsetail.
If you can’t afford a whole fence worth of glazing, how about a single panel? I wonder if this pane in a garden in Toronto’s Swansea neighbourhood was once the backing for a fountain? Even broken, it adds a watery touch here.
In fact, with West Nile virus a concern with mosquitoes breeding in standing water, why not replace the water in a fountain or birdbath with blue glass. This one is from the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden back in 2010. I wish I’d been able to return to visit their show of Dale Chihuly, a grand master of glass art. If you haven’t gazed at his glazing, do now.


    1. Now *that* would be something to see. Just pull on the rug a little, and maybe we could tug Seattle out our way. It might even bring some of that Pacific-Northwest weather with it. I don't mind rain. Really.

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