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The estate gardens of the past, elegant and meticulously designed, were often punctuated with furniture. Stone tables, cast-iron benches, sundials, and statues inspired by Greek or Roman mythology were all used as distinctive design elements. Nowadays, collecting these furniture pieces and ornaments is an immensely popular hobby in the gardening world, whether the objects are meant for a large, sprawling garden or a tiny backyard patch.

Garden antiques range from the expensive, such as a Parisian bust of the Roman god Bacchus, to the affordable, such as certain types of edging. Faux bois furniture, which simulates the look of wood and is perfect for rustic gardens, is especially popular. Many garden antiques are available from dealers, including Barbara Israel, of Katonah, New York, and Michael Trapp, of West Cornwall, Connecticut.

When collecting, Barbara says, look for signatures or marks that indicate a piece was made by an artisan rather than in a factory. You may find that, although you like certain pieces, they don't look quite right in your setting, but Barbara notes that some decorations, such as flatstone benches, complement virtually any garden.



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