Styles of Garden Benches
by Mary Harrod Northend
Styles and usage of garden benches are as clearly defined as in interior decoration. History relates that garden seats were found in the gardens of the early Romans and Greeks. Moreover, outdoor garden seats were hollowed out of old trees at the end of a posy garden path and these, with the green arbor, pergola or the vine-clad summer house, were the styles of outdoor garden seating favored by 18th century America. The ornate benches that came into existence during the Italian Renaissance were made popular again in the Victorian era—this patio furniture was crafted of cast iron. Later these were enjoyed as reproductions in the gardens of the early twentieth century. The principal materials for garden benches are stone, marble, wrought iron, terra cotta or wood. The least expensive and most popular of any of the materials that is used for outdoor seating is wood.
Stone Garden Benches
Marble or stone benches are most popular in formal gardens, as they provide a proper medium to reflect an elegant manicured landscape with its background of green trees that nothing else will satisfy. As an ornamental feature, stone garden furniture cannot be excelled, but as a garden bench it is not practical, being cold and hard to sit upon. Properly speaking, stone garden benches should be placed at the head of a walk or topping the garden steps. This is due to its decorative character and the necessity of making it fit into the floral scheme. The price of garden stone furniture is prohibitive although it varies with the elaboration of the carving. Terra cotta, while not as often used, has its advantages. It can be molded readily into any form desired. Although the least used of the materials its warmth of color, which is either buff or red, makes it worthy when one desires to bring out certain effects in the planting beds.
Stone Garden Bench
Japanese Garden Stone Bench
Concrete benches are the seats that are most commonly used for formal and informal gardens. Remember, however, not to mix formal and informal garden furniture. Although it is likely that formal garden designs will fit suitably into any landscape setting, informal garden benches would be out of place in formal settings. This fact applies to concrete garden furniture which is suitable for almost any occasion for it possesses almost endless possibilities as far as form is concerned. It can be molded into almost any shape, which accounts for the fact that in its designs many of the elaborate garden seats are copied. This makes concrete benches popular and constantly in demand, on account that its cost is less than marble or stone. To all intents and purposes, concrete is quite as durable as stone or marble. Moreover, its neutral gray tint harmonizes picturesquely with almost any setting of shrubbery or flowers.
Wooden Garden Benches
The kind of garden that most of us lives in and enjoys intimately is the yard where wooden garden benches are used. Wood has the advantage that it can be formed into such a great variety of shapes that there is always found some piece that is suitable for every landscape setting. If you contrast wooden benches with marble or stone, you will realize that it has the advantage of being lighter in weight and capable of being carried around from place to place with little trouble. One reason for the use of wood outdoor furniture is that unlike marble and stone it is not cold to sit upon, and is really comfortable.
Teak Garden Benches
The best kind of wood seating is teak furniture sets although they are the most expensive. Outdoor teak furniture resists weathering and lasts for centuries. Many people prefer pine garden benches because of less cost; nevertheless, care should be taken to keep it well covered with glossy paint. The advantage pine garden seating over teak garden furniture is that it can be readily wiped clean before using. Anyone who is a garden lover will appreciate this fact, for no matter how carefully placed, outdoor garden seats will accumulate a reasonable amount of leaves and dirt.
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