Garden Folly

The Weird and Wonderful Staddle Stone

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

I have come to love these magical toadstool like stone structures, found in England and northern Spain, as far back as medieval times. Used as agricultural building supports, they held up granaries, haystacks and beehives to protect them from small animals and allow air circulation underneath.

Staddle stones were made of two stones, a  2-3’ ft  high base, pyramidal or cylindrical and a rounded cap on top. Usually made of granite or sandstone, they were carved from whatever stone was readily available.  Because of their age, many staddle stones are covered with lichen which adds to their value. 

The word staddle comes from the Old English word stathol or base. In German the word stadal means barn. In the US, staddle stones were used as boundary stones to mark corners of a property. Today they can be placed in a woodland garden as a focal point, or as bollards along a road or to mark an entrance.

Whatever their use, they are treasures from our agricultural past. Come see our wonderful assortment of staddle stones at New England Garden Ornaments! 

Annual Fall SALE!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

We're making room for all of our new arrivals (including December's container!).  Come by and visit - there's lots of merchandise not on our website. 

We crate and ship nationwide so you'll have your garden antique or architectural element in just a few days!  

September Container Brings Antique Troughs!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Among other things an array of antique troughs seem to come with each new container and our September arrival was no exception.  It is the thing I look forward to most with our shipments of antiques.  

The troughs exhibit such history as well as beauty.  Most pieces are covered in thick layers of moss, each overlapping green conveying the years past like rings in  tree.  The grooves and pock from chisel and tool reflecting the craftsman's hard earned prize.  As always there is at least one surprising piece that catches my eye.  With this container it was the Antique Round Feeding Trough, its uneven contours making it interesting and unique.  

Check out our photos below to see if anything catches your eye!





Sundials and Armillary Spheres

Saturday, May 04, 2013

A Sundial used at a focal point in the garden always gives such pleasure and none more than armillary sundials.  They connect us with celestial movements, the summer and winter solstice, the passing of seasons and thus the cycle of growing. 

They are not only functional timepieces, but also hand-made works of art that would grace any garden in both summer and winter.  An armillary underneath snowfall is one of my favorite garden views!

In researching the armillary I came to realize that there is much debate as to whom or where it originated.  It has been attributed to Shang Heng, a Chinese astronomer in the Eastern Han Dynasty, Eratosthenes of Cyene, an Egyptian astronomer, Anaximander of Miletus, a Greek Philosopher, and Hipparchus, a Greek astronomer.  Even with all of this confusion about its origins one thing is agreed upon and that is its purpose.

The Armillary sphere was originally created as a model of the universe.  It consisted of a series of metal rings joined together with a small globe in the center representing Earth.  The sphere (rings) was to represent the celestial bodies visible from Earth.  The movement of the rings was supposed to demonstrate how these bodies moved about the Earth, which stood at the center of the universe. 

This, of course, was altered and updated as scientists and astronomers made new discoveries and better understood the universe and Earth’s place in it.   The armillary’s name actually comes from the Latin word ‘armilla’ for bracelet or ring.  The armillary was apparently not used as or rather transformed into a sundial until around the 17th century.

The contemporary sundial usually has three rings that form the sphere.  These are supposed to represent, the Celestial Equator, the Meridian Circle, and the Horizontal Plane.  The rod passing through the center, frequently depicted as an arrow, acts as the gnomon and casts the shadow over the hours on the lower band. 

To set the dial to tell accurate time you must point the arrow or rod North at noon.  Best done during Summer time.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

We've taken over the entire building at 81 Union Ave and doubled our showroom space from 3,000 sq feet to 6,000 sq feet.  Currently, our contractors are building out the new showroom - here are the before pictures.  

Concrete versus Dry Cast Stone....there is a difference!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
After looking around the showroom, many customers have asked the same question:

“What is the difference between concrete and dry cast limestone pieces?” 

So I thought that it would be helpful to write a paragraph or two explaining the differences, as both are wonderful materials and each has its place in the garden.

 Dry cast limestone ornaments are handmade using a limestone composite.  A slight bit of water is added – just enough to hold the composite together (this is the reason for calling the process “dry cast”).  The mixture is then hand packed into a mould and left in a humid room to cure.  Curing usually takes about 3 weeks, during which time the piece hardens and can be removed from the mould. The dry cast limestone is porous and looks remarkably like carved limestone.  The rough surface and minerals of limestone also promote weathering and help create a beautiful patina with lichen and moss settling on the surfaces in a relatively short amount of time.

The first picture shows a newly dry cast limestone and the second picture shows a weathered version after a year or so.


Concrete, in contrast, is made using a wet cast process; that is, water is added to the aggregate and then the mixture is poured into a mould.  The mould is shaken so that the concrete can cover all the details of the mould.   A slurry comes to the outer edges of the mould which creates the smooth surface of concrete.  At the same time, air bubbles also come to the surface which are often visible.  Once the piece has hardened, it is removed from the mould.  A smooth surface is much less hospitable to moss and lichen which lengthens the time needed to create a beautiful patina by several years.

This picture shows concrete's smooth surface.  If you look closely, you might see an air bubble or two!


The cost to produce a wet cast and a dry cast ornament (planter, statue, fountain, etc.) differs as well – dry cast limestone is a hand crafted product that needs time and attention to cure; whereas, concrete is largely manufactured with a short time frame to produce which makes it a less expensive alternative to dry cast limestone. 

Coming Soon to 1st Dibs!

Monday, April 23, 2012

We're setting up shop on 1st Dibs in June - come visit our new digital showroom soon!  We'll be showing our best pieces like Autumn, a19th Century Zinc Statue


Garden Traditions by Barbara Israel

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

We have partnered with Barbara Israel to sell her Garden Traditions line of high quality reproductions cast in limestone

Here is an excerpt from Carol Stoker's gardening blog

Garden Traditions

Garden Traditions by Barbara Israel is a line of high quality reproductions of garden ornaments selected by this well known antique garden ornament scholar and dealer, whom I met at the Winter Antiques Show in New York last February. She was selling remarkable stone originals there for tens of thousands of dollars, including a life...

You can read more here.

New England Garden Ornaments: A proud sponsor of the 2011 Newport Flower Show

Saturday, June 25, 2011
This year, the Newport Flower Show recreated the stunning legendary "Blue Garden" on the front lawn of the Rosecliff mansion and we happily contributed many urns, planters and fountains to the gardens.
"Mrs. James' greatest triumph was her famed 'blue garden,' planned by John Greatorex on an elaborate scale.  Blue flowers, accented with white ones, were replaced two and three times during the summer to maintain the color.  This garden was also opened to the public every Fourth of July.  From stately stone colonnaded galleries at either end, one could gaze in awe down the long sweep of lawn broken symmetrically with beds of blue and white flowers.  The central lily pool and long shallow blue-tiled lake were joined by a narrow, blue-tiled aqueduct.  Two stone baskets filled with stone flowers rested on the edge of the pool.  Great bay trees, in ornamental stone pots, standing on blue-tile bases, space themselves in stately lines on either side down the garden.

At the south end the garden widened in a semicircle to the arbored gallery on whose stone terrace two white stone dovers perched on a scallop shell.  The whole garden plan was enclosed within tall cryptomeria trees and an intricate latticed fence upon which climbed white roses, blue clematis, and other appropriately colored vines.  The delicate shades of blue were captured in anchusa, ageratum, baptisia, canterbury bells, campanulas, low chinensis delphinium and the taller blue hybrids, heliotrope, hydrangeas, Siberian iris, lobelia, nepeta, pansies (Swiss blue), plumbago, and veronica.  White accents were masterfully obtained with the use of standard tree roses, madonna and auratum lilies, alyssum, and pond lilies.  Mrs. James had set her stage of perfection in gardening when, on a summer night in 1913, she rang up the curtain for its dedication."
The Blue Garden as described by Harriett Jackson Phelps in Newport in Flower.  Many contributed to the installation of these beautifully designed gardens including Hali Beckman and Laura Willson of Garden Endeavors.  Here are just a few pictures.

Garden in the Woods "Water Whimsy" exhibit features fountains from New England Garden Ornaments

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Metro daily news recently published an article about the fountain installations we created for "Water Whimsy"

 Here is an excerpt from the article

Garden in the Woods' 'Water Whimsy' features fountains

Even after the rain stops, visitors can still enjoy flowing, running and sometimes gushing H2O by checking out "Water Whimsy," an imaginative exhibit that uses fountains as innovative decorations in the Saxonville botanical garden...

You can read more here