Decorating Your Garden

Even in a small landscape, a sequence of discrete spaces, connected by passageways and paths, adds a sense of mystery and expansiveness to an ordinary stroll. The Bealls created a journey that begins with a wisteria-draped arbor near the house and winds downhill, across terraces, along walks, and down steps that continue the theme of eye-catching, weatherworn stone. Paths indicate the way; iron arches and gates—many from gardener’s-supply catalogs and covered with vines—mark transitions to different areas. Potted bougainvillea, citrus trees, and palms further accent entries, as do finials perched on pedestals.

The style of any tables and chairs you choose has a big impact on the look of your outdoor spaces, of course. But they should also feel cohesive with the other decorative objects and materials you use. The Bealls found a pair of inexpensive rust-finished iron dining sets at a pottery yard. With extra chairs scattered around the paved “carpet,” they make a casual lounge for cocktails and conversation.

Many landscapes are most romantic after dark—by the glow of the moon and when well-placed electric lights spotlight trees and light up paths. The Bealls took their lighting a step further, hanging gracious outdoor lanterns from the boughs of trees. They also used tall streetlight-style lamps to punctuate patios and roundabouts. All these fixtures coordinate with the lights placed on the house’s exterior walls.

Hearing the trickle of water is an all-but-irresistible lure to exploring a garden. Listening to its music, you want to track it to its source, and in the Bealls’ landscape there are many. A fountain with an octagonal basin creates the liquid soundtrack for the herb garden. Another, echoing the columnar shape of Italian cypress trees nearby, bubbles amid flower-like agaves, drawing hummingbirds in droves. Both pieces were pottery-yard scores.

The fountain with lions’ heads that cools the lounging area is an antique find. Plant perfumes, often wafting from architectural containers, demand their own blissful attention: The entryway urns welcome visitors with honeysuckle and jasmine; giant herb-garden containers offer up lemon blossoms; and night-blooming cereus opens in pots around the main dining table.

Ornaments with the patina of antiques can make a new garden appear as if it’s been growing forever. To achieve this illusion, the Bealls incorporated treasures from their travels—including Gothic cathedral fragments bought from a salvage dealer—into landscape scenes. Placed in a gravel clearing, these stone bits and spires bring a fanciful, lost-city tableau to a garden designed just a few years ago.

For a similar effect, they placed a concrete horse’s head—a cast from one that had adorned the Parthenon—beside a bench. A garden-ornament catalog find, it’s right where a seated visitor can reach out and touch it.

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