Garden benches come in all sizes and shapes. Some are strictly utilitarian, some decorative, and some add meaning to the garden through their design.
The simple utilitarian version of a bench is a familiar sight, whether with a back …
… or without.
The chunky bench below was made from a single tree trunk. Set against a wall of the house, it’s easy to imagine sitting on it for hours, soaking up the sunshine.
This open-armed bench is both formal and gracious, with spreading sides that convey a welcoming spirit. The well-worn grass around it suggests that the bench is well used.
Benches at Glen Villa are simple yet each is individually designed to suit its particular location. The Skating Pond is naturalistic and the bench above it consists of two planks set atop two round rocks.
The most elaborate bench at Glen Villa is the one around the linden tree at the end of the Big Meadow. Recently rebuilt by local woodworker Mike McKenna, this bench looks simple but the math behind it is quite complex.
The bench at the Sundial Clearing is equally simple but the simplicity and the words on the seat reinforce the ideas about the passage of time that are behind this part of Timelines, the trail that explores questions of memory, identity and our relationship to the land.
The bench near the entry to Veddw, Anne Wareham and Charles Hawes’ garden in Wales, announces an underlying theme of the garden, its acknowledgement of, and respect for, the history of the site.
History is marked is a less self-effacing way in white metal benches at Somerleyton, an English estate in East Anglia — the initials under the seat are those of Francis Crossley, a carpet manufacturer who acquired the property in Victorian times.
When wooden benches are painted, they send a different message than when they are left to weather on their own. This pale blue bench is at Wyken Hall in Norfolk. Designed by Arabella Lennox-Boyd, the unusual colour combination adds an appropriately stylish note to a small side garden.
Primary colours characterize Madoo, the artist Robert Dash’s garden on Long Island, and benches carry the colour theme throughout the garden.
Stone benches are durable and many, even when new, suggest formality and antiquity.
Living benches aren’t very comfortable but they look good even when they need a haircut.
One of the most inventive benches I’ve ever seen was a metal bench, folded and printed with a map of Massachusetts.
Benches are much on my mind — a garden that doesn’t offer a place to sit is, in my mind, an unwelcoming garden. Near Bridge Ascending, the sculpture made to commemorate an old covered bridge, timbers stacked one on top of another offered a sunny place to sit and admire the sculpture.
This bench is now badly rotten and unsafe. It needs to be replaced. But with what style of bench, made from what material? I’m not sure but I have an idea…
I’m now booking talks for the up-coming year, so do get in touch if you are interested.
You can also follow me on Instagram, at glen_villa_garden I’m posting three times a week with photos from gardens around the world. This week’s posts include two gardens in Scotland.