Here are just a few reasons why buying antique and vintage garden design holds such appeal for decorators:
For an instantly ‘established’ look in a more relaxed garden space, weathered items of furniture and decoration, be they of metal, wood or stone, provide an immediate feeling of longevity to a garden. At the Decorative Fair, natural moss and lichen is positively desirable on all manner of gardenalia (as seen in this stone table, pictured right) – it enhances the atmosphere and charm in the garden. That’s not to say that perfectly smart pieces aren’t available; many dealers carefully restore antique hand-made wrought and cast-iron seating and show them in fine fettle.
Two mid-C20th cast alloy metal weathered garden geese, Peter & Lucy Sohier
Rare French Arras wrought-iron garden bench with curled-over top and seat, circa 1850, Violet Grey
Variety of Style
Every period and style of antique and C20th garden furniture can be found, from classic Regency reeded iron seating, to ornate Victorian cast-iron work, to mid-century modern stone planters. Important 18th century statuary sells at the Fair – a life-sized carved limestone figure of Apollo dating to around 1780 was acquired recently by a private client – while more affordable 20th century stone and metal figures of animals sell for a few hundred pounds.
Late C19th glazed pottery ‘faux bois’ garden seat, David Bedale
Large 1920s French metal wirework and wooden domed birdcage, Sans Pretention
One exhibitor, Garden Artefacts, specialises entirely in gardenalia; he cleans up antique garden forks, spades and other implements and creates a group display on a peg rail, a popular choice for wall displays in an informal garden room (or grand potting shed?! ). He also stocks antique watering cans, garden signs, cache pots, boot scrapes, and trugs. More unusual garden items that appear include shell-covered grotto tables and mirrors; eccentric objets orné such as elaborate cast and painted stone bird houses are a speciality of Belgian dealers Peter & Lucy Sohier, who also stock a wonderful variety of garden animals created in metal, stone and terracotta; found objects such as giant clam shells and vintage driftwood constructions; antique barrows and carts, some painted with old advertising messages and business names; garden seating comes in many guises, one of the more unusual to sell recently was a Victorian glazed pottery ‘faux bois’ bench offered by David Bedale.
Two Chinese terracotta ‘cache pot’ flower pots circa 1900, Garden Artefacts
Octagonal yellow marble-topped wrought iron table, by French designer Raymond Subes, circa 1928, Nick Jones