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Eclectic Art Garden


Traditionally, gardeners tend to keep to one style or theme. Eclectic gardeners, by contrast, tend to enjoy many different styles of gardening. Using a creative approach, they take their inspirations from all the garden traditions, combining plants, garden accessories and outdoor artworks to create distinctive and highly individual landscapes.

In many cases eclectic gardeners are plant collectors, seeking out bold and unusual plants, each chosen for its shape and form and displayed to its best advantage. For others, the plants are merely part of an overall effect, a backdrop for the other elements of the garden.

Regardless of their approach to plants, traits that all eclectic gardeners share are imagination and flair, and a willingness to step outside the boundaries of conventional gardening.

How to make it work

In the traditional garden, which relies on one style or theme, plants, ornaments and other landscape features are chosen to complement the overall garden style. This creates a sense of harmony or uniformity. Occasional contrasts in texture or colour are used to make a feature stand out, but overall, the bulk of the garden adheres to the single identifiable concept and style.

An eclectic garden is quite different, combining styles as seemingly disparate as cottage and formal, or Mediterranean with native bush gardens. The trick is to combine the components carefully and not to go overboard with excessive contrasts. Excessive contrasts may end up as confusing, jumbled mess, so that no one feature stands out.

One of the best ways to combine different styles into an eclectic garden is to use a single species of plant to tie them together. For example, a hedge such as Murraya paniculatum or Buxus sempervirens can be used in two different areas of the garden that exhibit different styles, forming a visual link between the areas.

Garden accessories and outdoor works of art tend to be informal – but not always. Interesting ornaments such as gargoyles, statues and water pumps are used as focal points and because the garden rarely has a major theme they can be combined in surprising and unusual ways. However, if several items are displayed in a small area, it’s best to choose them with at least some unifying elements, such as similar colours, shapes or construction materials.

The choice of garden artworks is vast, ranging from one-off metal and stone sculptures to mass-produced garden centre ornaments to bits of junk displayed in

creative and ingenious ways. Sentiment often plays an important role in the eclectic garden – broken shards from grandma’s dinner set become a quirky garden mosaic, while an old bedhead and frame, lovingly restored after the last child has left home, finds a second use as a support for climbing vegies.

Eclectic gardening encourages the creative side to our personalities. A house is often called our own personal fortress or paradise and the creation of an eclectic garden allows home owners to express links to nature, to objects and to themselves.

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