The Sartorial Garden

A beautifully tailored garden means many things to many people. Just like fashion and design – garden ornamentation can be simple, modern, traditional, classic or elegantly decorative; with adornment restrained or exuberant. We love it all and strive to build a collection that inspires and excites!

Antique Boot Scrapers




Collected by antique buffs, documented by historians and tripped over by 21st century pedestrians, the wonderfully useful and humble boot scraper seems to be making a comeback!

Being the hoarder that I am, I’ve collected several scrapers over the years which are now scattered around the showroom trying to look like I don’t have so many. But recently, these have started to sell rather briskly. Maybe it’s the trend of restoring the great manor houses to their original grandeur or maybe it’s the wacky weather with monsoon like rains or maybe a scraper is easier to maintain than a planter – whatever the reason, they seem to have found a new fan base (in addition to me)! 

Some scraper history for the newly introduced

For centuries, most people had to walk through the town centers, and they got their boots (or feet, as they often couldn't afford footwear) covered in all sort of muck from mud to horse manure. If we consider that everything from the households in town eventually ended up in the streets – then we can only imagine the mess!

It wasn't until the late 1700s that the better off got a taste for promenading. Having discovered the pleasure of walking, money ensured that paved walkways, tree-lined avenues and public spaces followed and became popular. But when one returned home, what was to be done?



Boot scrapers started to appear in major cities such as London, Paris and New York. The French called them 'decrottoir', meaning to remove excrement. And it appears the street were so filled with horse manure and mud that every decent house required a boot scraper.




 
Boot scrapers also became popular in colonial America in the 18th century, first simply as a thin hand wrought blade attached to two anchors and placed next to a house. Some American hand hammered examples are shown below.  By Victorian times cast iron allowed the production of many fashionable styles and they were even built into the stoop railings obvious to the user while others could be located discreetly.




Before long there were hundreds of different types of boot scrapers. During the 19th century many patents were issued for new styles, many with elaborate ways to remove filth. I am always so surprised at the level of decoration and detail that were used to create such a mundane household tool!




Different styles of cast-iron boot scrapers were produced such as lyre-shaped, plain bar, scrolled, griffins and other mythical or real animals, etc. Some had screw holes made to be fastened to a step or porch, others were put on a heavy base and secured with lead, and still others were attached to a tray to catch mud scrapings that could easily be moved around.

We always have several antique cast iron scrapers in stock under Odd and Ends – happy hunting!


The Rustic Beauty of Antique Stone Troughs


Hand carved from a single block of stone,  these old farming troughs have been in existence for many thousands of years. There is no real way to date them however a very worn and weathered trough can give some indication of age – but only then to indicate if it is old or really old!  

The industrial casting of iron began in England in the early to mid 1800’s.  It was about this time that the cast iron troughs started to emerge and replace the need for “tedious cutting and chipping out” stone.  Soon after, the making of these hand carved troughs began to disappear.  So most of our antique troughs are at least 150 years old and many much older.

Antique stone troughs were made for many reasons but most were used for feeding and watering livestock. The larger troughs were used for horses, as shown above, and the smaller troughs were used for the shorter legged animals such as sheep and pigs.



Typically, troughs were found along the edges of farming fields or property lines. They could also be found in the enclosures attached to barns where they held water for over-wintering cattle. Many troughs were set into field walls so that they could serve stock in two fields; these often had a sandstone divider or bars across the middle. 




Troughs could also be found alongside roads and well-traveled paths, often fed by a natural stream or by a piped supply. Roadside troughs would have served both moving stock and horses on a long journey.   



Antique stone troughs were carved in many shapes, the most common being a rectangular shape as shown above.

The round style of troughs was mostly used as a 'pestle and mortar' for crushing grain or fruit to pulp or flour.  They could also be used as food or olive oil storage, or even laundry tubs! 



Centered in the interior courtyard of Fountains Abbey in England is a large, very old and well-used circular stone trough.  It’s thought that this round trough was used as a washing tub by the Abbey’s monks. 



The 'D' shaped troughs were used at water wells for collection of water.



Nowadays these beautiful rustic antique stone troughs are purchased for use as garden features or planters, and can be designed into elegant water fountains.

 

These wonderful antique stone relics live on for centuries becoming more beautiful over time. When you next cast a glance at an old farm trough in England, imagine that it might have been carved during the Tudor dynasty or even during the Byzantine empire!




Antique Cider Mills and the Art of Cider Making


Cider making has a long and wonderful history in England. It’s a bubbly fermented version of the cider typically served in the US and has an alcohol level of 3% - 5% similar to beer.

The tradition of cider making produced vast amounts of cider in the autumn from fruit that was grown on the farm. It was never produced as a major cash crop – it was mostly a private industry and self-contained. Cider was often given to the farm hands on a daily basis as part of their wages. During the harvest season, when work was most strenuous, the farm hands could easily go through 1 to 2 gallons of cider in a day!

Because cider apples tend to be hard, there are two steps to extract the juice. First the apples need to be crushed and then the pulp needs to be squeezed to collect the juice. In the earliest days the fruit was hand crushed with mortar and pestles. Later a more mechanical process was discovered using a circular horse powered mill. This used an upright millstone (usually carved from the local stone) and was pulled by a horse to crush the apples laying in the circular trough. As the horse went round, the cider maker would add water and scrape the pump off the sides. Once the wake of crushed apples was high enough in front of the millstone, then it was time to press the pulp.




After milling the apples, farmers would press the pulp immediately afterwards. Presses had various designs primary determined by region. But all presses had a large bottom stone which was flat in the center and had a groove cut all along the edge of the stone to capture the flowing juice. These bottom stones were usually square or circular with a collection point at the front.



After milling, the apple pulp was too wet and mushy to stay in place under the press. So the cider maker would use a binder such as straw to keep the pulp in place while being pressed. A layer of pulp would be spread on the bottom stone and then a layer of straw would be spread on top; then a layer of pulp followed by another layer of straw and so on. This stack would then be pressed. These layers of straw and pulp were called the “cheese.” Building a tall cheese that allowed all of the juice to be extracted was deceptively difficult!




Once the pulp was dry, it would usually be fed to the farm stock taking care to move quickly in order to prevent any fermentation. It’s one thing to see a staggering drunken chicken – it’s another thing to dodge a drunken pig!



Finally the juice would be put in large wooden casks to allow for fermentation

Today, these beautiful stone cider presses are used in a number of ways to create a striking garden element. We used our two presses in a water feature that took advantage of the natural flow of water to the outer edges and then to the collection point.


Some pictures from Museum of Cider


Antique and Reclaimed Stone Sinks


Carved stone sinks were a common feature in private homes across England, anchoring the lower level around the daily house hold chores.  These wonderful hand hewn sinks have been made over centuries and continued to be made well into the 19th century.  From grand manor houses to modest cottages, stone sinks were found in almost every English cellar or scullery.  

Scullery stone sinks from the 18th century 



Stone sinks were carved from one piece of stone and were made in a wide range of sizes and shapes depending on the household's needs.  They could range from 18 inches in length to over 72 inches in length.   This large stone sink shown below was found in Warwickshire, England, measuring over 67 inches in length!               




The size and shape of the sink depended on its use.  Most were shallow so the person didn't have to lean too far over to do their work.  Often there was a slab on one side or both sides of the sink.  These were salting slabs used to prepare and preserve meats and fish for the winter.


Yorkstone sink with salting slab 17th century



As with many farm and household tools, the material or stone would be from a local quarry or from their own farmland.   We found a beautiful example of these salting slabs in Yorkshire, England, made from Yorkstone, the local stone.   We also have many antique English reclaimed sinks and troughs made from limestone, sandstone, Bathstone and cornish stone in stock.

Over the years, our clients have used these sinks in so many creative and interesting ways.  From a foot bath near the beach to a lovely rustic bathroom sink.  The clean, simple lines even work well with modern homes offering a nice textural surface.  Here are a few examples that show just some of the possibilities!

Bar Sink:

Unfussy Kitchen Sink:



Trough Bathroom Sink:


New Potting Room Sink:


Martha Stewart's Blog Post on the NYBG Antiques Show

 

(Martha, thank you for mentioning us in your blog post!)

The NYBG's 25th Anniversary Antique Garden Furniture Fair 2016

Spring is a popular time for fairs and sales of all kinds, and when my schedule allows, I always try to attend a few of my favorites.
Last week, I went to the Benefit Preview Party and Collectors’ Plant Sale at the New York Botanical Garden’s annual Antique Garden Furniture Fair. This year, nearly 30 of the country’s leading exhibitors showcased their finest garden antiques for purchase. The Collectors’ Plant sale featured hard-to-find trees, shrubs and plants propagated from NYBG collections, and hand-selected for their rarity and charm. The event also included a whimsical honeybee-inspired theme by event designer, Ken Fulk.
It’s a splendid time of year to be at the New York Botanical Garden - not only to enjoy its many fun and interesting events, but to see its stunning gardens and horticultural displays. I hope you take the opportunity to visit the next time you are in the New York City area. Enjoy these photos…


New England Garden Ornaments in Sudbury, Massachusetts is the largest garden ornaments source in the northeast. It has more than six-thousand square feet of showroom space and an additional quarter acre of outdoor display area for their collections of garden antiques artisanal reproductions. http://www.negarden.com/

 


Our Look at the NYBG Antiques Show 2016

Long held as the country's most renowned stage for authentic garden antiques and rarities, the Antique Garden Furniture Fair: Antiques for the Garden and the Garden Room celebrated its 25th Anniversary this year and returned to New York Botanical Garden with a new look. Named "Best in America" by experts, this wonderful annual show featured 30 of our fellow garden antique dealers offering unique and beautiful items.

This year's Fair had a playful bee-inspired design by event designer Ken Fulk. As Designer Chairman for the 25th Anniversary Fair, Fulk created a centerpiece exhibit that showed visitors the possibilities of marrying antiques and modern design with their everyday aesthetic.  There was a definite buzz in the air!



Days of picking pieces to show, hours packing, 3 trucks, long drive but were finally here! Unloading and getting ready for the show.




Almost done, just need to make sure things look good from all angles.





Final touches to ensure it's all just right.




And we're done! Even our elegant Joan of Arc is waiting with bated breath.  The antique cast iron "Erected" sign sold rather quickly!




Our Whitley Finial became the focal point of our booth with armillary sundials grounding the corners.













Certainly a full range of materials and styles from an old washing copper and farm watering troughs to estate finials!



Beautifully elegant flower arrangement to enhance the ambience of the pieces.




What can we say, he just fit right in!




Even the incredible Bette Midler graced us with her presence.


Antiques And The Arts Weekly reviews NYBG 2016

 

Garden Antiques Fair Is ‘Red Hot’
At New York Botanical Garden




This mammoth-sized bee skep by the show’s design chairman Ken Fulk amped up the show’s “wow factor” this year. The back was left unadorned to show off the rattan weaving.



NEW YORK CITY — By 8 pm on opening night, when things are usually winding down at the New York Botanical Garden’s Antique Garden Furniture Fair, show manager Karen DiSaia was seeing red.  She was not mad though, and was quite pleased to be seeing red. Red sold tickets, lots of them, appeared all over the show in just about every booth. “The show looked like it was covered in measles,” she said after the show’s April 29–May 1 run that kicked off Thursday, April 28, with a gala preview that was well-attended by garden antiques collectors, celebs, designers and supporters of the Botanical Garden.



Dealer Bruce Emond almost didn’t get his massive 12-foot urn delivered to the show when police stopped the delivery vehicle on the way to the show. After checking permits, the urn made it and sold preview night. Village Braider Antiques, Plymouth, Mass.


The show is always a gorgeous event to behold, but this year it was nearly an over-the-top experience — from a wooden canopy bed outfitted with a “mattress” of delicate moss in Hamptons Antique Gallery’s booth to a colossal, 12-foot-tall urn in front of Village Braider’s display to the equally gigantic, rattan-woven bee skep that held pride of place in the center courtyard of the show. The latter work was the vision of renowned San Francisco-based interior and event designer Ken Fulk, the show’s design chairman, who is known for creating “experiences.” The sheer size of this piece would be noteworthy alone but eliciting many oohs and ahhs were the hundreds of fresh flowers that had been individually — and painstakingly — interspersed among the skep’s woven strips to cover the entirety of its interior wall.

Fulk’s attention to detail, befitting the show’s 25th anniversary this year, was evident on preview night as his bee-theme continued with a yellow and black striped carpeting that ran from the conservatory building to the front entrance of the show, past two assistants dressed as beekeepers handing out honey-themed drinks to guests and into the show where DJ Kiss, wearing a black and yellow dress, played songs from the 1960s and 70s for an appreciative crowd.


 
New England Garden Ornament's Booth featuring a  wide range of beautiful antiques.  Front and center is a large antique copper washing tub and a carved circular watering trough.  Both imported from England.

“Everyone was in such an upbeat mood, this was just so much fun,” DiSaia said of the party. “Normally everyone is out of there by 8 o’clock.” The party guests stayed longer and more importantly, bought more. One couple from South Carolina reportedly bought 47 objects from 14 dealers at preview and nearly every dealer reported doing well. The show was noticeably busy Friday and Saturday and only slowed down during Sunday’s heavy rains.

Bruce Emond of The Village Braider, Plymouth, Mass., whose aforementioned 12-foot aluminum urn sold during preview, called the show “red hot” and said that it “was mobbed the instant it opened,” adding that his sales were not just good but “unbelievable.” “I wrote 27 receipts and sold more in the first two hours than I sold at Chicago [the week before], and Chicago was a good show.” And it was not smalls that Bruce was selling, but big and heavy (expensive) things. Ironically, the urn, which weighed somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds, almost did not make it to the show. A landscaper associate was tasked to deliver the urn to the fair and en route, he was stopped by police who, questioning his permits, nearly impounded the vehicle together with urn, Emond related. Fortunately, the situation was resolved and the urn arrived in time to make its debut.

The antiques trade has taken some hits in recent years and it is quite rare to see a show today where nearly every dealer does well, but from all accounts, nearly everyone here had some sales and about 90 percent of the dealers did quite well. DiSaia said she works hard to keep the show focused on garden antiques and garden room furniture, rather than it becoming a general interest show, and that has certainly helped drive the show’s success. Focused events, whether they are devoted to garden antiques, stoneware or ephemera, seem to be defying the antiques slump and are encouraging to dealers.



A canopy bed of moss, soft enough to sleep on, on display at Hamptons Antiques Gallery, Stamford, Conn.


Among the dealers reporting strong showings was New England Garden Ornaments, Sudbury, Mass. “We had a wonderful show. Many of our large and unusual pieces sold — especially the very rustic pieces. One of my favorite pieces was an antique stone table with beautiful carved capitals for supports. It sold within ten minutes of the preview opening!” said dealer Gray Baldwin. The table had ornate Corinthian capitals that came out of a chapel in Batley, England, built in the 1870s and demolished in 1987. Two antique farm watering troughs and a very old wellhead also sold during preview. “Rustic and naturalistic seemed to be the favorite this year,” Baldwin noted.

Also going home with a much lighter load at pack-out was Balsamo, New York City. “The show was very good for us. The preview party is most important to us as we do most of our total business during the party,” said dealer Steve Abeles. He was fortunately able to acquire three sets of staddle stones dating from the Eighteenth Century to bring to the fair and sold two sets of four stones and one set of six, all within the first half-hour of the show. “Matching sets are extremely rare and hard to find and I think our clients know that and that’s why they jumped to make a purchase so quickly,” Abeles said, who also wrote up a 9-foot-diameter fountain surround with a large urn and matching plinth that was shown in the center of the surround, as well as a curved stone garden bench with lion detail legs.

Other sales were reported by Blithewold Home, Mount Kisco, N.Y., which noted owls were a hit in its booth, with the quick sales of three cast stone owl garden figures in varying styles; a Robert Kulicke still life oil painting from 1962 and a ceramic Chinese roof tile in the unusual configuration of a koi that sold from the shared booth of Garvey Rita Art & Antiques in West Hartford, Conn., and The Cooley Gallery, Old Lyme, Conn., and at Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge, Maryknoll, N.Y., who was making his show debut here, a dessert service featuring geraniums was a good sale.

The show will return here next April.



Photos and Review by Andrea Valluzzo

 


2016 New York Botanical Garden Antique Show

Happy to say that we will once again be exhibiting at the NYBG Antique Show!

More than 30 of the country’s leading dealers offer their finest pieces at America’s most celebrated venue for authentic garden antiques, this year featuring interior designer Ken Fulk. Expert tours and talks occur throughout this three-day event.

Join us, stroll the 250-acre grounds, and get inspired! 


Our New Blog: The Sartorial Garden

Sartorial: adj., tailored; as in sartorial elegance

Over the past few years, our customer base in the fashion, art and design world has continued to grow. We get it: beauty should be everywhere not just atelier couture but especially in the garden using creative design, good architecture, and the best ornamental elements. We count Proenza Schouler, Ralph Lauren and the late, great Oscar de la Renta as just a few of our clients and projects.

Thus it seems only natural to call our running commentary and written research - The Sartorial Garden. Please enjoy and email us any thoughts – we’d love to hear from you!


GARDEN EDGING: Often overlooked but always hard working!

 

Edging is such a wonderful and easy way to introduce structure and definition into the garden. Well placed edging punctuates any specific space in the garden including planting beds, graveled areas, or even pathways; it draws the eye up and along to a focal point.

Edging provides clean and elegant lines throughout the garden where messy edges are typically the norm. A lovely and efficient way to keep the garden tidy!


 

Edging is also quite versatile as well since almost anything can be used to outline an area. Half buried bricks along a pathway, limestone rope edging along a perennial bed or even steel edged raised grass panels. Edging can be formal or informal, new or antique, and can be made of various materials including limestone, concrete, cast iron, and stoneware.

 


Rope edging was a popular style throughout the 20th century and is still used today.  Pictured below are antique salt glazed rope edging tiles from England.  They typically came in 9”wide x 8”high tiles with corner posts.

 


Installation of this type of edging is quite simple. First, you’ll need to dig a 4 to 6 inch deep trench along the border. Add 1-2 inches of sand or crushed stone – something that will help keep the tiles level and will allow drainage so that the tiles won’t move during winter freezes or extreme rain. Then place the tiles in to the trench and fill with dirt or crushed stone.


We typically don’t recommend mortaring the tiles together, this allows for slight movement without cracking the edging. If installed correctly, little maintenance is required, just reset any tile that may have moved during the winter or rainy season. Note that installation will vary depending on material and age of edging.  But don’t feel constrained by formal rope or other tile edging - there are endless ways that you can use your creativity and various garden materials to easily add structure and form to your garden!

 


Antique Millstones: Precision Tools

 

These early relics of times past may look like clunkers with blunt uneven edges but how they worked together was an incredible feat of precision engineering.  For many centuries across the globe, millstones were used to grind various types of grain, nuts and spices. When used for grinding, two millstones are positioned on top of each other. The stone on the bottom is called the bedstone and is stationary, while the one on top called the runner rotates over it.


To begin the process grain was fed into the hole in the middle of runner. As the runner turned the grain would be cut by the scissoring action of the carved grooved patterns along both stones. When the two stones rotated against each other - never touching! - the grain would repeatedly get ground between the grooves as it worked its way from the center to the outer ring of the millstone.

The center of the bed stone and runner would be approx. 1/8th inch apart but towards the outer edge of the millstones, the distance was closer to one thousandths of an inch. Both perfectly balanced - quite a task maneuvering a 1500lb stone! Every year these stones were redressed to maintain their effectiveness.  

Millstones were also used as cider presses - here the runners are vertical vs. horizontal.


 

 

Millstones are extremely diverse and come in as many shapes and sizes as people - honestly no two antique Millstones are ever the same.

 

Today these important pieces are used in a variety of ways including fountains, steps, bases, stonewalls and centerpieces. One of our favorite garden antiques, we always have unique weathered millstones in stock. Browse online or stop by!





Tracking Time

Daylight Savings means Spring really is right around the corner!

To mark the daylight hours, Sundials are one of the oldest tools for measuring time, based on the shadow of the Sun. The Egyptians used a shadow stick or shadow clock as early as 1500 BC. The vertical stick or “gnomon” marked the time of day by the length and position of the stick’s shadow. 


Gnomon in Greek means “the one that knows.” A horizontal sundial that uses a triangular gnomon to cast the Sun’s shadow is the most common design. Sundials need to be aligned by their style or gnomon, parallel to the axis of the Earth’s rotation to be accurate in marking the time of day. Most horizontal sundials traditionally have a motto or epigram on them which adds to their delightful presence in a garden.  Sundials come in many shapes and forms reflecting the mode and style of the times - here are just a few examples from England through the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries:



 

 

Sundials can be mounted on a base and some are designed to be hung vertically on a tree or building. We have a wonderful selection sundials that can be mounted and/or engraved - come see them!



The Weird and Wonderful Staddle Stone

Staddle Stones: A Very Short History

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!



A History of English Lead

Centuries ago, alchemists attempted to discover the means to turn lead into gold. They never succeeded, but in the early 18th century the spreading popularity of French-style formal gardens created a booming market for statuary, urns and vases. Lead was the perfect material for these items — it was easily worked and highly durable, and even if not quite rendered into gold, lead certainly became a golden commodity in gardens of the period, and it remains so today.

 

The use of lead flowered in England during late 17th and 18th centuries, especially in the shops gathered around the Hyde Park area of London, which produced extraordinary statuary and vases for the English nobility. The English adoption of the French garden style, with its emphasis on parterres and terraces, created a need for large quantities of statuary to ornament these newly laid-out gardens. Prior to this time, statuary for the garden had to be sculpted laboriously from stone or marble, a slow and expensive proposition. Casting statuary in lead not only offered the advantages already noted but also meant that the same piece could be repeated quite easily.

 

Many of the earlier artisans producing these works came from the Continent, particularly the Low Countries, and were either schooled in the sculptural arts or had extensive knowledge of sculpting techniques. Among the most famous of these was Arnold Quellin (1653-1686), who came to England from Antwerp and was a renowned sculptor of his time. His assistant, John Van Nost (1687-1710), later became perhaps the greatest of this period's leadmakers. Interestingly, Quellin died in 1686 and Van Nost subsequently married his widow, thereby acquiring much of Quellin's work.

 

The increasing popularity among the English gentry at this time for the "Grand Tour" of Europe exposed them to classical statuary and contemporary sculpture evident in Italy and France. It was, therefore, similar statuary they wanted for their new gardens. Van Nost stepped in and supplied them with lead versions of these great works. His many commissions for Melbourne Hall in Derbyshire included representations of Andromeda, Perseus, a grouping of Amorini and perhaps one of the most elaborate lead pieces made, the Vase of Four Seasons, standing eight feet high. John Cheere (1709-1787) was the most prolific of all leadmakers. His brother, Sir Henry Cheere (1703-1781), may have been a pupil of Van Nost but it was the younger Cheere who became more famous for producing lead ornaments. For Bowood House he produced fine figures of Apollo, Venus, Mercury, Flora. He created sphinxes for Blenheim Palace and at Stourhead, depictions of Pomona, Bacchus, Minerva and Venus, among others. One of his greatest works, the splendid River God in the Grotto, is also at Stourhead. And there was so much more elsewhere - Punch, Harlequin, kneeling Blackamoors, Shepherds, Shepherdess Fauns, Father Time and the incredible life size Gamekeeper firing a Gun at Biel House.

 

Much of the lead statuary made at this time was painted, either to simulate stone or in lifelike colors or even gilded. This is sometimes surprising to modern eyes accustomed to the silvery gray of old patinated lead, but in fact it was common practice. Only later in the century was the natural weathering of lead appreciated for it own qualities. Modern restoration of lead statuary from these times has begun to include painted surfaces again. Painted lead statues can be seen today at Powis Castle and Clifton Hampden near Oxford. John Cheere also recommended that leadwork be rubbed down every so often with linseed "oyle" to retain a dark, polished surface.

Statuary was the highlight of these times but, of course, many smaller items were made as well, and much of the 17th and 18th century lead that has survived to this day includes items such as urns, vases and cisterns.

 

With the advent of the English landscape movement of the late 18th century and its abolition of formal gardens and parterres in favor of the naturalistic pastoral settings, ornamentation in general was largely abandoned and the demand for lead statuary fell. Many of the great lead ornaments were torn down, melted and turned into bullets for wars. It is curious to think that lead originally incorporated as part of some heroic piece by John Van Nost might be now lying under the sod in Lexington, Massachusetts, or some other Revolutionary War battle site!

 

Thankfully, statuary and urns came back into fashion toward the end of the 19th century, both in England and the U.S., and once more lead returned as a popular material for garden ornaments. Several foundries were opened in the early 1900s, some of which survive to this day. One of these, H. Crowther, still produces a wide range of lead ornaments. Still other foundries have opened in more recent years, making planters, fountains, animals, cisterns and statuary. As gardening gains in popularity and the joys and benefits of a well-made garden become apparent, lead ornaments — so noble and so durable in the harsher climates — have become ever more sought after.

 

To the modern American gardener seeking to incorporate lead ornaments in a restoration garden, or for that matter any garden, it might seem confusing to glean direction or guidance from all this information as to what may or may not be appropriate. As we have seen, colonial gardens used ornamentation sparingly. However, it may be argued that lead is the most sympathetic of materials for this period. Used contemporaneously in Europe, it certainly was present in period gardens and would have been used more extensively in the Colonies but for the high cost of transportation and lack of domestic production facilities.

 

The post-Civil War period, with its development of great American wealth, led to the creation of spectacular gardens. Lead ornaments, once again in favor in England, were of course introduced into these great gardens. Later Victorian and Edwardian gardens also used English lead ornaments. Examples of gardens in the U.S. that have significant displays of lead ornaments are the Ladew garden near Baltimore, Filoli in the Bay Area of San Francisco, Winterthur in Delaware and Old Westbury on Long Island.

 

Fortunately, today there is a wide selection of lead materials available for the garden enthusiast. Since 1987 New England Garden Ornaments, Inc. has imported lead ornaments from England, including lead animal figures, vases, urns, troughs, fountain heads and sundials, to name a few, many based on historical molds.

As Gertrude Jekyll, that famous English garden designer of earlier years pronounced firmly, "There can scarcely be a doubt that the happiest material for our garden sculpture and ornament is lead."


September Container Brings Antique Troughs!

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

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 sundial underneath snowfall is one of our favorite garden views!



In researching the armillary, we 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.

 


Garden Traditions by Barbara Israel

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 Gallery - In Progress

Making progress with new partitions, fountain platforms, and many coats of paint.  A few of our big antique pieces have started to populate the vast 3000sq ft of empty space.  Stay tuned - more to come!


WE'RE EXPANDING!!

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.  


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

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


Boston Flower & Garden Show 2010

The 2010 show was quite a success with thousands attending daily - we hope that you'll join us for the 2011 Boston Flower & Garden Show from March 16th to 20th at the Seaport Center.

Please click on any of the photos to view the slideshow.


Blog | City Garden Ideas

I had the pleasure of meeting Janine Mudge when she came to interview me in Sudbury.  It was such an enjoyable conversation (talking through most of the afternoon).  Sundials, statues and other ornaments work so well with small city spaces - any trouble with plantings...simply place an ornament instead!  

Janine has created a blog and community focusing on the challenges of city gardening.  It's a wonderful resource that I highly recommend to any city dweller.  

Here is an excerpt from the blog

Spotlight on New England Garden Ornaments – Blending Function, Beauty and Fun

Spend five minutes with Gray Baldwin, the personable owner of New England Garden Ornaments, and you can feel her excitement for cast limestone pots, concrete urns and lead containers from England.  Listen to her tell the story of a carved rain spout or finding whimsical statuary and you can’t help but laugh along with her and share her delight in the pieces....

Read the full blog post here


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

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.



WATER IN THE GARDEN

From the first gardens ever planned water has played a vital role in their design.  Water is a primal need and its presence in a garden contributes to a sense of comfort and abundance.  The sound of water creates a peaceful element, while also masking unwanted noise.  The use of soothing water sounds, coupled with its cooling influence, captures all senses.  Water as a focal point in a garden amplifies the space adding another dimension.  Any water feature, large or small, centerpiece or wall, will immeasurably increase the satisfaction of a garden experience.


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

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 difference, 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.