Creating harmony, simplicity and peace in the landscape......

"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.

Gardening is an instrument of grace. "

May Sarton
________________________________________________________________

Monday, August 2, 2010

Stone Seats and Benches in the Garden


In August, gardens in my part of the world, are a tangle of  foliage, flowers and overhead tree canopies. We know we should start cutting back, limbing up or clearing out the overgrowth but what we really want to do is sit in the cool shade and drink a tall glass of iced tea.

Antique sandstone Bench from English Garden Antiques

Ah, a place to sit in the cool leafy shade! What better contrast to the soft green lushness that surrounds you than a stone seat or bench, immutable, grounded and cool to the touch...

See some great stone benches at the Stonepost website

Stone seats in the garden have a storied history. The Druids of Northern Europe fashioned stone chairs out of boulders. It is surmised that they were used for rituals and perhaps coronations of a sort.  Today, in the British Isles and in France, you can find ancient stone seats in fields, woods and near sacred springs.
Sunny Wieler, an Irish stonemason / artist, follows in his ancestors' tradition and wrote about making stone seats in his marvelous blog, Stone Art Blog (check it out!).  Stone Art is his company which serves County Cork and Dublin. Here are some of  his marvelous creations.


Sunny Wieler - Stone Art Blog

You might expect all stone seats to be massive and heavy but this is not the case. In the Chinese tradition, they fashion rounded stone seats (some are carved to look like drums) which encircle a stone table. You can see a great example in the Chinese garden at Naumkeag in Stockbridge.


Traditional Chinese stone table and stone seats

Following this idea, the wonderful designer Jinny Blom created Spore seats.  Although not technically pure stone (they are made of a eco friendly moldable stone) they hark back to Chinese stone seats with a more modern flavor. I love them.  They were a commissioned design for a permanent installation at London’s Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, which recently won a prestigious BALI Landscape Award.

Jinny Blom's Spore Seats

Another modern take on ancient stone benches is made by Escofet. Their Bilbao benches are also not pure stone but look how great they are.

 


Of course, benches can also be fashioned from a combination of wood seat and stonelegs like here in Carmel by the Sea in California. I think this combo is a great way to incorporate stone in a public setting....


If you want a great book about incorporating stone in the landscape look at this one:

5 comments:

  1. What great examples you found. Though I find a cushion useful at my age!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I must admit you are right....perhaps we could fashion leafy cushions...

    ReplyDelete
  3. I recently added a small cement bench to the containers in front of my porch. It looks like it's grown up from the sidewalk, and I feel it invites passersby to join in and enjoy the plants.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Jan, nice post. thanks for the plug. I was delighted to see one of my benches pop up on your post.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Stone art such a wonderful blog - keep it up! and I love that bench of yours...

    ReplyDelete

Hi there! I would love to hear from you....