Lawn ornaments can give a decorative flair to a garden or patio, and they come in all sorts of designs. One of the most familiar is the garden gnome, said to bring good luck to gardeners and visitors. Another is the gazing ball, its mirrored surface perfect for pondering the beauty of nature. From pink flamingos to wishing wells, lawn ornaments can add a new dimension of style to outdoor living spaces.
Garden decorations are probably as old as time. Decorative stepping stones were perhaps the first lawn ornaments, and ancient people were known to also hang chimes in the wind to keep evil at bay. As the science of landscape architecture advanced, so too did the lawn ornament.
For some people, it’s not enough to let nature’s bounty shine -- there must also be fountains, statues and birdbaths to punctuate the natural beauty. Each individual has his or her own idea about what makes lawn ornaments pleasing to look at. For example, an ornamental lawn decoration depicting a religious figure, such as the Virgin Mary, can have a profound spiritual effect on visitors. At the other end of the spectrum, a whimsical whirligig twirling its brightly colored vanes in the wind gives many people a carefree feeling of childlike glee.
Gnome statuary is a favorite with gardeners everywhere. Each garden gnome has its own individual character, usually depicted as a tiny bearded man with a pipe. Legend tells of elf-like gnomes that help tend gardens at night while the rest of the world sleeps. Garden gnomes originated in Germany in the mid 1800s, and they are the most popular of lawn ornaments in Europe today. There are estimated to be more than 25 million gnome statues inhabiting German gardens and lawns alone.
Gazing balls have a history that goes back to 13th-century Italy. Also known as yard globes, they come in several diameters, from about 2 to 22 inches (5 to 56 centimeters). The gazing ball is made of colored, mirror-like steel, ceramic or stained glass, and usually sits atop a sturdy, decorative pedestal.
Some of the largest and most extravagant lawn ornaments are statues depicting war heroes and famous leaders that commonly grace public parks and gardens. They are meant as monuments to the fallen and the revered in our society, but as time passes, they may be overlooked by park visitors, becoming just another part of the landscape. Lawn and garden decorations exist to enrich our sense of beauty and wonder, and they are in abundance for those who take time to “stop and smell the roses.”