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Popular Man-Made Features of a Landscape Garden

Landscape gardens aren’t just about natural features; some of the most striking contain man-made touches that give them that little extra spark. Compass Garden and Landscape Design, who provide contemporary garden designs in Frome, Devizes and across Somerset and Wiltshire, look at some of the more popular features.

Weather Vanes

These are believed to date as far back as the first century BC. One of the earliest was found in Athens and depicted Triton, the god of the sea.

Weather vanes turn freely on a fixed vertical rod, and must have equal mass but unequal areas on either side of the centre. This allows the point of least resistance to always face into the wind. Many have the four main compass points – North, South, East and West – incorporated into the design to make them even easier to use.

Cockerel or rooster designs are common. This is because their tail is ideal for catching the wind. Designs with ships, arrows and horses can also be regularly seen.

Why are weather vanes so popular? They allow gardeners to see which direction the wind is coming from (which can be important for plant protection and forecasting the weather), and they also provide an additional point of interest on their own


Sun Dials (and Clocks)

Sun dials are an ancient device used to measure time outdoors. They date back as far as 1500 BC and the days of the Egyptian pharaohs and Babylonian astronomy.

They consist of a flat plate (the dial) and a gnomon, the part that casts a shadow. Depending on the time of day, the shadow cast by the sun will align with different hour-lines which are marked on the dial.

In gardens today, they are made of bronze, brass, steel, iron or some other long-lasting, durable material. They can be on a separate pedestal or bolted onto a large stone. They can also be vertical and placed on the side of a building. As with the weather vane, they have a functional purpose. Along with providing an additional focal point in the garden, they can also be quite ornate.

Some, particularly in public gardens, can even use humans as the gnomon. So if someone stands in the right spot, it will cast a shadow onto the plate and tell the time. Another popular feature these days (if rather more functional) are outdoor clocks. These often have additional features such as temperature and humidity gauges.

Fire Pits

Also known as fire holes, these are quite a common feature these days. They can range from a simple hole dug in the ground to an elaborate structure of stone, brick or metal. The fuel they use can be wood or some form of natural gas such as propane. The hole or pit will act as a natural fire break, so the flames won’t spread beyond the pit.

Fire pits allow you to make more use of your garden, even in the colder winter months. Some pits can also be used for food preparation as they effectively act as grills.

Garden Benches and Other Furniture

Many people like to be able to relax outdoors in the garden. The Ancient Egyptians are believed to have done it first by simply taking their indoor furniture outdoors. The Ancient Greeks and Romans took this one step further, creating bespoke garden furniture. Early examples were made from stone, making them quite uncomfortable.

By the Middle Ages, gardens had a more functional purpose, as they were places for cultivating vegetables rather than relaxing. However turf benches – effectively a garden bench packed with soil and topped with either grass or herbs – did become pupular.

After this period, gardens became more somewhere to relax, and people began to have bespoke furniture again. Because of the impracticalities of stone, lightweight benches, tables and seats became the order of the day.

In the modern era, garden furniture can be made of many different types of materials. One of the advantages of heavier wooden and wrought-iron furniture over lightweight plastic is that it is less likely to be blown away or damaged in high winds – so they can really be a permanent, stylish feature.

Contemporary Garden Design in Frome from Compass Garden and Landscape Design

Compass Garden Design is partners with Good Directions Ltd, a bespoke manufacturing company based in Hampshire. We can rely on them to provide top-quality metal and timber products for domestic and commercial or public gardens. These include fire pits, clocks, and weather vanes. They can also supply made-to-measure edging and fence capping.

So while we look after the natural features in your garden, they can add the extra touches that form an integral part of any Compass Garden and Landscape Design project. If you would like to know more, call us on 07920 051549 or follow this link and fill in the online contact form.