Search Property For Sale

GARDENING: A touch of drama

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

From striking plants to a well-chosen sculpture, accents create points of interest in the garden for the perfect finishing touch

Does your garden have a spark that creates a talking point for guests? The right accents will give your garden a unique identity and can also be used to emphasise a particular theme or style.


Before you select an accent for your garden, establish where an object should be placed, and once that space is identified, what items would work there. Accents can be practical, such as a birdbath or bench, or whimsical, perhaps a collection of fairy houses. They can also be used to evoke a particular mood within a space – dramatic and unexpected or restful and nostalgic.

Smaller gardens can have one or two places for accents, while larger gardens can benefit from accents in various garden “rooms”. These gardens can have several smaller accents leading towards a bigger focal point which may be hidden from the eye to encourage guests to take a journey through the garden. 

Good places for accents are at the entrance to your property, the start of a walkway, alongside your front door or patio or to create a picture which you can view through a window in your home. If you have a meandering pathway, a bench at the end gives the visitor a place to rest. Ponds or fountains are best placed where you can enjoy them from your outdoor entertainment area.

A sculpture of a child reading evokes a restful mood alongside this garden pond. Picture: Tokara

Smaller pieces encourage the visitor to bend down for a closer look and see the garden from a different vantage point. Consider everyday items you can recycle as garden accents.

If you plan to buy, photograph the various places with your cellphone so you are able to refer to these images while shopping. What can you use as accents in your garden? Consider the three As: artwork, architectural plants and accent lighting.


‘Dionysus’ by Angus Taylor to view at Tokara. Picture: Tokara

Sculptures or statues are some of the most popular artworks for the garden. Sculptures are two- or three-dimensional artworks of people, animals or abstract forms and can be made of a myriad different materials.

Statues are three-dimensional replicas of people or animals and generally crafted in concrete, marble or bronze. They can be life-size or even larger. To see how well-placed sculptures can accent your garden, visit the Tokara Wine and Olive Estate Autumn Open Garden and Annual Rare Plant Fair next Saturday. 

This expansive farm garden boasts 11 sculptures and will provide patrons with ideas on placements in their own gardens. This year’s autumn schedule gives visitors a chance to see a changing season as the leaves of the deciduous trees turn and autumn flowers bloom.

Anne-Marie Ferreira, one of Tokara’s property owners, says she is fortunate to have a large garden and several spaces which can accommodate sculptures. 

“I would say identify where you would place the sculpture before you buy and I prefer it if the sculpture forms part of the garden landscape and sits comfortably in the garden,” says Ferreira.

“The scale is important. The works should be durable – wood does not last that well when left to the elements.” To prevent injury to pets, children and people who work in your garden, always ensure larger pieces are properly secured.

A stone pond draws the eye along a path and the fountain adds the sound of running water. Picture: Kay Montgomery


These are striking plants chosen for their unusual shape, leaf form, colour or size. The most popular varieties are evergreen. When choosing an accent plant, consider the space you have and the mature size of the plant. Many of these specimens are chosen for their sheer size and dominating presence. 

Make sure the space is adequate. Smaller plants can be grown in an attractive pot. Consider the needs of the plant. Does it require shade or can it handle full sun? Also, check on other plants that you have in proximity and their flowering seasons and colours to avoid a glaring colour clash.


Consider yucca spp., flax, ornamental grasses, topiaries, cycads, large aloes, tree aloe (formerly Aloe barberae and now Aloidendron barberae), “Firesticks” (Euphorbia tirucalli “Firesticks”) and the flapjack plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora).


Where security is practical, providing important illumination in the garden, accent lighting is creative and provides an opportunity to highlight important features for visibility at night. To focus attention on a sculpture or architectural plant at night, use a luminaire, where a beam can be adjusted for up or down lighting.

The placement of the light source in front of the item will bathe it in light. To bring out the texture, direct a side beam to skim the surface of the object you want to illuminate. Place the light source behind the item to create a silhouetted effect.


The Autumn Open Garden and Annual Rare Plant Fair at Tokara Wine and Olive Estate takes place on Saturday, with more than 30 exhibitors taking part. Time: 9 am to 4 pm. Cost: R50 for adults, in aid of a local charity. Address: Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch. For more information, see or email


About Author