I have a thing about ornamental metal work in the garden. I like it a lot, if it’s well designed and works with the space it’s in.
There are so many ways to use it – benches for a start. OK, so they probably aren’t as comfortable as wooden benches, but they can really smarten up the space. The Victorian style of this iron bench works well with the Ripley Garden.
A heavy, well-painted iron bench invites visitors at the Smithsonian’s Ripley Garden.
More commonly, you may come across beautiful garden gates and fences to add a special touch to the garden; to let passers-by look but not touch, or just to serve as a backdrop to a glorious planting area.
This circular design on a gate leading to a small garden in Charleston SC is inviting. I wanted to step inside!
Detail of an ornamental gate in Charleston. Love the brass insets in the shape of a star and flourishes.
A custom-designed iron gate in a northwest DC garden designed by Corinna Posner of European Garden Designs.
A glorious iron fence with decorative panels at Magdalen College, Oxford sets off the herbaceous border in front of it with style.
Blenheim Palace’s gates are very grand and have lots of nice glittery gold bits.
Then there are opportunities to think outside of the box a little bit, either practically or to add a stand-alone sculpture to a space.
A custom-made bike rack near the parking lot at Chanticleer – where form mimics function perfectly.
Another iron bike rack, this one at the Morris Arboretum outside Philadelphia.
A freestanding metal sculpture (OK, probably not iron!) that would look right at home in someone’s garden. This, however, is found at the University of Georgia’s Botanical Garden (in Athens, Georgia).
What about the front garden, you say? Small space? How about an interesting railing or two?
Chanticleer’s magic includes a whimsical iron railing with supports that look like plant tendrils.
Iron railings enclosing a front stoop in Georgetown are designed along a musical theme – a lyre.
For something really out of the box – if you have a sizeable garden – consider rusted ornamental orbs like these or commissioning something from Andrew Crawford’s ironworking shop in Atlanta. Or let me know if you’ve come across something in your travels you’d like to share, and I’ll add it to the list!