Friday, September 28, 2012

Design Elements- Garden Benches

To sit in a garden you have created is one of the greatest pleasures of all. From your seat you can contemplate your work in peace, feel the warmth of the sun, observe the play of light on the plants, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. From the seat, too, you notice what is wrong and make plans for action. --Sir Roy Strong, from A Small Garden Designer's Handbook

I couldn't agree more with Sir Roy.  However, based on my own observations, I would simply add that, when gardeners are seated in their own gardens, they usually spend a great deal more time noticing what is wrong with things than enjoying the play of light on the plants.  We are an obsessive lot.  Nevertheless, incorporating a garden bench into your garden might at least provide a comfortable spot for visitors to sit and feel the warmth of the sun, and perhaps more fully appreciate the fruits of your own obsessive labors. Besides, garden benches can do more for a garden than simply provide a place to sit:

For example, there are antique benches, like this iron one, that make wonderful garden ornaments in their own right.

Benches can become part of a seating ensemble that will provide a gathering spot to take in that special view of the garden.

A painted wooden bench can bring a dash of color to an otherwise colorless part of the garden.

Benches can be tucked into a hedge to form an integrated sculptural unit.

A large granite bench can provide plenty of seating but can also become an integral design element in a border.

Curved stone benches, when combined with other design elements, can invoke a certain mood, as in this Japanese inspired garden.

A bench placed in the shade can offer a cool and comfortable place from which to view the garden or just sit and read a book.

A rustic bench can bring just the right country feel to the garden.

A stylish bench can accentuate the architectural proportions of a garden folly or gazebo.

Some benches--like these made out of bluestone and granite--are unique pieces of art in themselves.

Benches can be used to introduce a bit of whimsy into the garden.

A traditional role for benches has always been to serve as a focal point at the end of an important axis in the garden...

...or to encircle a special tree that the gardener seeks to emphasize.

If you're thinking of adding a bench to your garden and you want some design inspiration, you can check out more photos of garden benches by clicking here.


  1. Pitter patter is all I can say Joe...that is what my heart did with each and every one of these benches. You are so right...sitting, staring at your garden, there is no telling what one might get up to as a result. Most likely...another garden would shortly be underway.

    Best wishes for a lovely weekend...

    Jeanne :)

  2. So glad you enjoyed the photos, Jeanne! Yes, it's often dangerous to sit too long in the garden. Especially if you already have more garden than you can handle!

    It was so great to see you this week! I'm keeping my fingers crossed, if you get my drift. Safe travels back to Vietnam. Will talk soon!

  3. Enjoyed your post on is a good reminder to take time out from garden work just to sit and simply look, and that benches serve as both form and function in the garden.

  4. Thanks, Beth and James! It's so true that we all need to be reminded to stop, sit, and take a deep breath every once in awhile.

  5. A garden bench is an outstanding place to spend a beautiful summer day.

  6. Loved all the benches and I think adding one even in the smallest of gardens just says "hospitality". Thanks for the wonderful pictures.


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