Benches-Garden Bloggers Design Workshop

(Photo taken April 7, 2008, the knot garden)

What a perfect subject to be placed in a garden.
(Photo taken April 27, 2008)

They draw the eye like no other focal point, for those with eyes also have bodies that need a rest after hiking around the trails and pathways of a garden, public or private, at least here in south east Tennessee where there does not exist one square inch of flat ground, they do. So it makes a delightful topic for a design workshop, chosen by the ever creative Nan at Gardening Gone Wild for the month of April.
(Photo taken December 9, 2009 at our public library, with flood)

Looking through the archives for pictures of benches, it was noticed that several shots were taken at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina at various times of the year.
(Photo taken April 26, 2009)

The Biltmore contained a bevy of benches.
(Photos taken March 22, 2009)

If fact, a bench purchased at the garden shop there even came home to live in the Fairegarden last year.
(Photo taken April 29, 2009)

Another spot in North Carolina, Christopher’s magnificent mountainside retreat was where this snapshot was taken, after a freak early snowfall last October.
(Photo taken October 18, 2009)

One more from North Carolina, this time at Grandfather Mountain Nursery, shows a fabulous blue bench being decorated by hard core gardeners, Mr and Mrs. Brokenbeat. The color is so striking, the photo looks altered by a photo shop type program, but rest assured, this is unadulterated. It goes to show what a splash of color can do for a winter landscape. You guys look Marrrrvelous!
(Photo taken by friend of Brokenbeat’s, 2009)

There are a few benches here in the Fairegarden, placed for optimum enjoyment, but the most used is the little one I made for the area by the pond. Newly reconstructed for the fifth time in 2007, click here-GBDW The Many Incarnations Of The Pond to read the story, note the toasted by frost leaves on the Japanese maples, the pond draws the gardener and guests to gaze into the depths at fishes Casey and Fido.
(Photo taken April 19, 2007)

What a difference a year, and a human added, makes to the pond. Contemplation at its best, with cheerios.
(Photo taken April 20, 2008)

Time marches on. Little LTB is getting so big that his clodhopper feet no longer fit on the bench. He still loves to gaze at the water though.
(Photo taken April 12, 2009)

Fast forward to current day. Something is definitely missing, even though the bench was weathered some and the garden looks lush and inviting.
(Photo taken April 6, 2010)

Benches also make good tables.
(Photo taken October 19, 2009)

A small child’s bench, a Mother’s Day gift from offspring Gardoctor a few years ago just fits on the front porch stoop.
(Photo taken April 8, 2008)

It makes a handy drop off spot for packages by delivery people, or to get the long view of the Muhly grass in its fall glory. But it too is missing something.
(Photo taken September 18, 2009)

Ah, that’s better. (LTB at the age of two, it’s a perfect fit).
(Photo taken October 4, 2007)


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44 Responses to Benches-Garden Bloggers Design Workshop

  1. Edith Hope says:

    Dear Frances, This is an absolutely inspirational posting not least because it depicts so many wonderful forms of seating [any of which I should be more than willing to take away and place in my own garden] but that it provides so many ideas about where seats might be placed in a garden. This has been such a pleasure to look at and read.

    I did think of trying to identify my favourite – impossible, I think.

    Thanks Edith, for those kind words. We place benches where there is a flat surface, very difficult to find here. It is not good to have a bench on a slope, one can fall out and roll down the hill, lol. πŸ™‚

  2. gardeningasylum says:

    LTB adds that missing something for sure! There are so many benches and chairs here and when people ask if I often sit in them, the answer is no – I suppose they are there to suggest the idea of sitting. Who can sit and not notice something needing weeding or staking or pruning?

    Thanks Cyndy. I do sit in all of these and the other chairs placed here and there, but never for very long! lol

  3. Sylvia (England) says:

    I have one bench and that is more for a focal point than for sitting on. It is the same design as the one in your knot garden! I don’t have any in the rest of the garden, which is open to the road, because I don’t want to tempt people in!

    Lovely post, I will be back to Gardening Gone Wild to see whw else posts on this subject. Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Hi Sylvia, thanks. The benches are art in the garden, but we do sit on all of them except the little one on the front stoop, I don’t want to break it! I like to view the garden from different perspectives, and often just sit right in the middle of the flowers. It is a good way to really notice everything going on and often the butterflies and hummingbirds will come quite close if I am very still. πŸ™‚

  4. Randy says:

    These are all inspiring! The little boy looks pretty proud of that bench! I have one in my mind I want to make. A concrete one made is a curvey style with inset stones like turquoise and agates polished to sit flat into the surface. Just another one of those things to do on my list.

    Thanks Randy. Oh my, your bench in the making sounds divine! I have made several of wood, my carpentry skills not matching my vision at all, lol. Making a seat from concrete sounds intriguing, thanks for the idea! πŸ™‚

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Benches make the garden look so inviting. You have a nice collection of benches in your garden. I would love to sit at the top of your garden in the bench by the knot garden and watch the world go by. Or like the little fellow sit and watch the fish swim around.

    Thanks Lisa. The view from the knot garden looks out over the roof of the house to very large trees in the distance. The fall color change seen from up there is breathtaking, when I remember to sit still and look! πŸ™‚

  6. Les says:

    Those Biltmore benches look as if they are poised to get up for a walk.

    HA Les, aren’t those cool? Not for sale, but I love them! πŸ™‚

  7. Joy says:

    Frances girl … I am also fascinate with the subject of garden benches and this was a wonderful post : )
    I especially love the one with the pumpkins : ) but they were all beautiful .. especially the change of season with your little man there !
    I am getting a new one this year as I wait for my landscape guy in a few more weeks he swore he would fit my little bit of work in .. something like believing in Santa for me ? haha

    Thanks Joy. Waiting for workmen must be an international problem. I thought it was only in the hills of rural Tennessee! Your bench warmers would be the perfect subject for a GBDW about benches! πŸ™‚

  8. There’s nothing that says “Welcome, come, enjoy, stay a while” in a garden better than a seating element!

    I agree, Monica. Every garden needs a place to sit.

  9. Hi Frances – you have such a talent for putting the right thing in the right place and this post certainly highlights this. Thanks for the inspiration – I need to get a couple of benches for my garden. And your garden looks amazing.

    What a sweet thing to say, Heather, thanks so much! All gardens are more inviting with a bench or two or three. πŸ™‚

  10. More seating is on the to-do list for here. When you have kids around it’s nice to be able to just sit and watch them play.

    I had trouble viewing some of the pictures – they seemed to either overlap or be partially off the post area.

    Thanks Dave. I believe some of the feed readers are confused when I insert the photos align left or right. It can be read straight from the url, if you want to see it cleaner. Sorry about that. I am always on the lookout for seating that can withstand the elements. Those plastic adirondak style chairs are inexpensive, colorful and comfortable. I got them at the grocery, on display with the summer merchandise. I bet you could build a fabulous bench yourself! πŸ™‚

  11. So many beautiful examples of benches…both functional and decorative.

    Your Knot Garden is my favorite! (We have a 15×15 square where we’re growing the holly hedge to prepare for a future formal space). Our bench count is 3, but we have tables and chairs on two patios and the front porch where we literally hang out in the garden.

    Thanks Cameron. Your future formal space sounds delightful. There is no such thing as too much seating! πŸ™‚

  12. Gail says:

    Frances, Benches are so important, whether we spend a lot of time sitting on them or not…They are perfect spots for friends to sit and talk about garden plans, steps work, too! I do love your Knot Garden and how the bench seems to sit over it and the rest of the garden.
    You do have great viewing spots set up. Btw,
    I just unearthed two original fifties butterfly chair frames that were hiding in the underbrush~ Uncomfortable for our women of a certain age bodies~~but, won’t they look cheery decked out in new canvas covers…gail ps LTB is adorable! gail

    Thanks Gail. Those butterfly chairs are extremely uncomfortable for people of all ages! Save your money and spray paint the frames as art. lol Or weave seats with vines for a Tarzan motif! πŸ™‚

  13. VP says:

    I don’t know how I’ve missed GBDW is back in gear again. My mind must be elsewhere – Malvern perhaps πŸ˜‰

    Lovely to see pictures of your family and the various benches adorning your garden. I’ll add just 1 further use to the ones you’ve listed – they make great backdrops for blogpost pictures – expect to see one featuring some chocolate I’m testing very soon πŸ™‚

    Thanks VP. I believe there has been a time lapse between these workshops. I just stumbled upon this one and was glad to see this topic, a favorite here. How do you get these gigs? Testing chocolate, for goodness sakes!!! lol

  14. Lzyjo says:

    Ah, a bench. I was just thinking about how I need a bench thank you for the inspiration and impeccable timing. πŸ˜‰

    Thanks Lzyjo, glad to help out! πŸ™‚

  15. Rose says:

    As inviting as all your benches are, Frances,they look even better with LTB to complete the picture! I can see he enjoys Grandma’s garden as much as anyone, and I’m beginning to think the secret component to all your lush plantings might be Cheerios:)

    Sadly, there is not a bench to be found in my garden, but I’ve been planning to add one for some time, but where? You’ve given me lots of great ideas–thank you, Frances.

    Thanks Rose. Maybe there is a secret ingredient in those cheerios, they do seem to add something wonderful to the scene and the soil. As for a bench for you, think about the sun being in your face, normally that is to be avoided, so point it facing north. πŸ™‚

  16. Excellent bench review Frances. I have not given much thought to where a bench might go in my new garden. I am still in the front porch rocker and basement patio seating mindset.

    Thanks Christopher. You have so much to consider, but thinking about looking back at the house might be something to put into the mix. πŸ™‚

  17. Jenny B says:

    What a sweet smile LTB has–or should I say, had…they grow up so quickly. Love all your benches. They are so inviting–begging the lucky stroller to sit and become part of the garden instead of just an observer.

    Thanks so much, Jenny, we certainly are charmed by that child! I like that thought, being part of the garden. I often sit right down on the ground, easier on my back, while working and love feeling that vibe. πŸ™‚

  18. Robin says:

    I enjoyed seeing the pictures of your LTB! For some reason I love gazing at pictures of garden benches. My favorite style is the one in the knot garden.

    Thanks Robin. We have so many photos of LTB because we see him often, glad you found him enjoyable. I love the Lutyens style as well, that bench came from Home Depot for a very reasonable price when we first moved back to TN, before the renovation began and has been sitting in that exact spot ever since. Lichen is taking it over, but we hope it lasts for a while longer. πŸ™‚

  19. While that last pic is, of course, my favorite I’m quite enamored with the design in the first one. Such an inviting place to relax and do absolutely nothing! (A skill I’ve honed to perfection.)

    Wow, Kate. Doing absolutely nothing is nearly impossible for me, even sitting on the bench in the knot garden. Something always catches my attention that needs doing. I am working on that, however. πŸ™‚

  20. nancybond says:

    A beautiful selection of benches, Frances. Love them all, but I really do like the iron and wooden ones. Maybe a bench would stop people from traipsing through my gardening area when they get off the bus! πŸ˜• People are so RUDE.

    Thanks Nancy. It sounds like you do need a barrier of some sort, that would upset me too!

  21. commonweeder says:

    Benches – or better chairs – are on my list. I recently attended a talk by Lynden Miller who has designed many park/public gardens like Bryant Park in NYC – and she emphasized how vital seating is in public and private spaces.

    That sounds terrific, Pat. You can probably get your hands on those Westport style chairs, I admire them very much.

  22. Oh Francis,

    What a wonderful post. I don’t own a garden bench, but now I want one. It is easy to see that the finishing touch is someone to sit on it – your grandson is adorable. Now, I need to see where to place one in my garden and then ask for one for Mother’s Day πŸ™‚

    Hi Noelle, thanks. A garden bench is the most perfect Mother’s Day gift ever! Hope you get a nice one. πŸ™‚

  23. Randy says:

    I was looking at the mulch in the little bench area by the pond. What kind are you using that will stay on such a steep hillside?

    I use the bagged stuff called soil conditioner all over the garden. It is really pine fines, finely chopped pine bark. The only reason any mulch stays on the steep slope is the number of plants now growing there. It was a huge problem when the garden was first planted, the mulch washing downwards. Large rocks help as well.

  24. I love how the right bench says so much about the character of the garden. We’re looking for a bench for a shady outcropping, to overlook our orchard. Haven’t seen it yet, but I know it’s out there…somewhere.

    A shady outcropping sounds like a most delightful place for a sit down. You will find the perfect bench, I am sure. Thanks for stopping by. πŸ™‚

  25. kimberly says:

    Frances, this is a wonderful post…what a great subject for photos! And your photos are GREAT! What is most amazing to me at this moment, though, is your garden!! I’m shocked and amazed at how lovely it is! I’m humbled, again, that so many gardeners here on Blotanical, such as yourself, are so kind to me, my garden and my blog. After seeing your garden, mine looks positively plain and elementary. You’re an absolute inspiration!! BRAVO!!

    Thanks Kimberly, you are too sweet. Your own garden is always the best one in the world, for gardening is a process, not a contest or even ever a finished product. I have been gardening for many many years, and ten years in this spot. Time makes all the difference. πŸ™‚

  26. easygardener says:

    That was a lovely post. After reading it I felt as if I had had a relaxing sit down!
    Benches are like magnets – they promise peace, rest and contemplation (hopefully).

    Thanks EG, for enjoying the restfulness of the benches. I like the thought of magnets, things that draw us unconsciously to a place. πŸ™‚

  27. Patsi says:

    Can’t pick my favorite. Have a few here that haven’t fallen apart yet and need to be sanded and stained…but that aged look is kinda nice. Thanks for all the great ideas !

    Thanks Patsi. The bench in the knot garden is wood of some sort, not teak. It will have to be replaced someday, but I prefer the aged look in benches, and people. πŸ™‚

  28. Lythrum says:

    We have a perfect spot in the backyard garaden now that is begging for a good bench. I love the bench in your first picture. πŸ™‚

    That sounds wonderful, Lythrum. I hope you find just the bench that suits you. Thanks for the kind words. πŸ™‚

  29. Layanee says:

    Beautiful benches but none as beautiful as the smile of that child. Lucky you.

    Thanks Layanee, I agree. πŸ™‚

  30. Lola says:

    Great tour Frances. Love all those benches.
    I have one in the back yard & a swing {I can’t get to} but that seems to not be enough for this old body. I’m thinking of how I can incorporate another or 2. The other half of my bench {put together they make a picnic table} is on the front porch if you can call it that. It’s barely wide enough to sit on the bench. Young’un put wheels on them so it would be easier for me to move them. Ha, can’t even do that now.
    I agree that something was missing, the most important part. That very handsome little man.

    Thanks Lola. Wheels on a bench, what a great idea. Sorry you can’t enjoy that feature. LTB on the benches really adds a certain something. Also the Brokenbeats. πŸ™‚

  31. Janet says:

    Your sitting areas are so inviting. My eye was drawn to the pinks around your steps. I am jealous.
    Charlie and I spent a lot of time the other day trying all sorts of outdoor seating. You have shared some great looking ones.

    Thanks Janet. I know you will find some great pieces for your new home, lots of views there! πŸ™‚

  32. Liisa says:

    A wonderful variety of seating areas, adding focal points and giving the garden such an inviting feel. I love the photo with the steps, and the colorful blue bench. That bench on your porch looks much better with that handsome young man sitting on it. πŸ™‚
    I look forward to the addition of a seating area with a bench in my own garden, though the area will probably not be ready for sitting until next year…

    Hi Liisa, thanks. Your seating area will be great, it seems you have lots of time to select the perfect benches! πŸ™‚

  33. Lisa Blair says:

    I love the photo of the knot garden. It seems to be the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of wine. My grandfather is erecting two benches for my garden now. I can’t wait to put them in the perfect spot in my back garden.

    Hi Lisa, thanks and welcome. We do enjoy the knot garden bench above all others. I made a cushion that is kept in the shed to add a bit of comfort for longer term sitting. How wonderful for your grandfather to be making benches for you. Lucky girl! πŸ™‚

  34. Weeping Sore says:

    What a lovely post. Your pictures of benches surpass even the very high bar you set for garden phontography. As a gardener who appreciates sitting more and more these days, thanks for reminding us that everything lovely in a garden doesn’t have to grow.

    Thanks so much, W.S., for those kind words. Being able to go through the archives for a post lets one pick the cream of the crop of images. My thanks go out to Nan Ondra for this wonderful topic. We are firm believers in the non growing additions to gardens, especially the comfy kind. πŸ™‚

  35. Beckie says:

    Frances, love the benches. Yours are beautifully placed and look even better with the little one sitting on them. It took me a while to get the ‘flood’, but I finally saw the bench in the water! And that blue bench is just the color to brighten up any day in the garden.

    Thanks Beckie. I agree, people on the benches are a real enhancement. The bench in the flood was part of an Out On The Street post for VP of Veg Plotting. Our library had recently installed a lovely area with native plantings and benches well placed along the pathway. While walking along, I nearly walked right into the water, didn’t even realize it was not supposed to be there! πŸ™‚

  36. Benches ARE great, aren’t they? You remind me that i have one up in the hayloft that should come down. It was originally on hubby’s boat when he ran tours, but when he got out of that we painted it periwinkle blue and added it to the happy chaos that is our garden. He also built me a number of adirondack garden chairs, so those are scattered around in strategic locations as well. Perfect for when my knees scream ENOUGH! and I must sit and contemplate the next moves.

    What a great bench that must be, Jodi, it certainly needs to come down into the garden. How lucky to have hubby built adirondack chairs too. Even our plastic chairs from the grocery feel good when we need to take a break. πŸ™‚

  37. Joseph says:

    Nice tribute to garden benches! I am in need of a bench right now – trying to find the perfect little bench as a place to sit in the new butterfly garden.

    Thanks Joseph. A bench to sit and admire the butterflies sounds delightful. I know you will find just the right one. πŸ™‚

  38. Oh no – another item moves to the top of the wish list. It would look so lovely by my front door. Great idea for a post, frances!

    Hi Kelly, thanks. This is a wonderful plant, but does turn to solid green in about a month.

  39. Kyna says:

    Wow, that blue bench came right off the screen and punched me between the eyes πŸ˜€ I love it!! I want one.

    Hi Kyna, that color is so bright it looks artificial, doesn’t it? I want one as well. πŸ™‚

  40. I like them all Frances, but that shot with the pumpkins/gourds in Autumn is a gem!

    Thanks Rob. That is one of my favorite photos as well. πŸ™‚

  41. noel says:

    aloha frances,

    great post, i’m also a bench fanatic and love all different types to put into spaces to stop and view a different part of the garden…thanks for sharing all your favorite types

    So glad to hear it, Noel, and thanks for those kind words. It is always nice to look at the garden from a different point of view. πŸ™‚

  42. Nan Ondra says:

    I knew we could count on you for some great bench shots from Fairegarden, and the other images were a extra treat. I love the classic one from the Knot Garden, but your little pond bench is absolutely irresistible. Thanks so much for sharing this post for the GGW Design Workshop, Frances.

    Thanks Nan. This is a favorite topic, benches are a must in the garden. I just made another one in fact. πŸ™‚

  43. Pingback: GBDW – Garden Benches Wrap-Up

  44. Such a lovely post Frances. Little LTB is just the cutest;-) We used to have a small bench like that on your front porch, but I’m not sure what has happened to it. LOL. I have 2 benches in my yard…1 in the front and 1 in the back. There is also a cement bench on my driveway between the 2 garage doors which I’m considering placing in one of my gardens so I can ‘gaze’ and relax.

    Thanks Jan. The little bench was originally not placed under cover and it was feared that the wood would rot. It still might, but will last longer on the covered porch. I love those cement benches, at least you don’t have to worry about rot with them. Heavy to move however, but worth the effort. I especially like the ones with some patina and age on them. The same way I like humans. πŸ™‚

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