Not all successful pairings in the garden involve just plants. Inanimate objects can really make plants shine by providing a contrasting or complementary backdrop.

 Here, a rusted metal bird bath creates a nice foil for the heuchera, “Geisha’s Fan.”  The scalloped footing on the birdbath echoes the shape of the heuchera’s leaves.                                                  photo

In the front garden, a fountain serves as a foil as well as a support for a Mandevilla vine. photoAnd from the side, the fountain provides a foil for an iris and some fluffy fountain grass.

A large pot is a classic object for creating interest. This shiny one is filled with coleus and flanked by a large-leafed hosta and green Japanese Forest Grass. Creeping Jenny echoes the coleus’s chartreuse color and flows in to fill the gaps.                                                                    photo

Statuary is another classic combination in the garden. Here I’ve paired an aged but muscular Chinese lion with Chelone “Hot Lips,”  which is just starting to bloom.  The hot pink chelone blooms look really good against the turquoise of the lion.   photo

A more restful combination is this seated Buddha against a soft green hemlock. This combination is simple and calm. The softness of the feathery hemlock provide a lovely contrast to the smooth, hard surface of the Buddha.photoThe best thing about objects, though, is that they can be anything that you like.  I have chosen some of the more classic, traditional objects, but I’ve seen wonderfully inventive, “found” objects used to great effect in other gardens.  Pairings are limited only by your own imagination.  And isn’t that one of the best things about gardening?

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