How about an obelisk in your garden? Or a sun temple? Or a dripping, moss-covered grotto? Or a couple of elegant Muskoka Chairs?
The garden of one famous English estate boasted all of these features and more. It was called Stourhead, and these architectural elements, called follies, were artfully placed along a meandering circular path nearly two miles long. The garden and its follies were designed in 1744 by an amateur landscape designer with the unenviable name of Henry Hoare.
A folly is an architectural structure in the landscape that exists for no reason other than to add interest. Follies were all the rage in English gardens of the late 1700s, when they were an integral part of an architecture and landscape design movement known as the picturesque. The movement espoused pretty much what you might guess — designs were meant to be artfully composed and, well, pretty as a picture. Stourhead was, in fact, literally based upon a landscape painting by Claude Lorrain done a century earlier.
Alas, most gardens don’t have room for Stourhead’s highly creative follies. But a folly doesn’t need a lot of room to be effective. The same design elements that worked for Hoare and others during the golden age of English landscape design can still be used to lend picturesque elements to your own garden.