Barbara Hepworth would be delighted. So would Henry Moore or, for that matter, Sir ­Antony Gormley, arguably our greatest living sculptor. 

All three are known for their outdoor creations — and so one can assume that all three would applaud the growing trend for what loosely can be called ‘garden art’. 

Although it’s not a new genre, it has become more popular in the last 18 months as people place more emphasis on outdoor space. 

Refined: A gilded bust will become a focal point in any garden's patio area

Refined: A gilded statue will be a focal point of any garden’s patio area.

It also has a utilitarian aspect. You can use it outdoors all year, and it will look even more beautiful over time. 

You might also want to spend more time with friends under a heater on your patio, so why not invite a stone Urn filled with wafting Grasses to join the party? 

‘Garden art and furniture has taken off in recent years — and it became especially sought-after during the pandemic when we all spent so much time at home,’ says Julia Skinner, of J’s Garden Antiques, based near Upton Snodsbury in Worcestershire. 

Most of Julia’s collection is sourced from the UK, although her copper cheese vats come from France and have proved to be best-sellers — never mind that an extra large one can cost about £5,000. 

She says that some of them have been converted into bubbling fountains. These make great centrepieces. ‘They just need a simple pump, which works out at an extra £200 or so.’ 

Travers Nettleton and Katie Nettleton have been running Garden Art Plus in Hungerford Berkshire for nearly 20 year. They work out of a former salvage and timber yard. 

They sell everything from benches, bird baths, gates, arbours, fountains, finials, and statues. 

Travers states that the lockdowns were successful because of the renewed interest shown in gardening. 

“And that led me to think more about garden furniture. Stone is more durable than wood and can be improved with age. People are always trying to find the right balance between practicality and aesthetics. 

Visiting his yard has almost become a local attraction in its own right, especially now that he has invited several other ‘likeminded retailers’, as he puts it, including a wine merchant, boutique clothing shop and art dealer, to open their own shops on the site. 

Some of his statues — such as a headless 17th-century figure of Athena — cost more than £12,000, but you can also pick up a bust of Aphrodite on a fluted column for £595. 

Tina Bird established Decorative Garden Antiques shortly after the first lockdown. She was running a company specializing in team building, but it was not possible to do any team building during the pandemic. 

Her mother had just passed away. She and her brother decided to rent the house to holiday-makers. They also wanted to improve the small patio garden which is the focal point of the property.

Centrepiece: A decorative stone planter from Tina Bird's Garden Antiques

Centerpiece: Tina Bird’s Garden Antiques’ decorative stone planter

Tina states that sometimes things are meant for certain times in your lives. “Suddenly, I had all the time in the universe during Covid and I leapt like an eagle and became completely engrossed by garden antiques, which I have loved my whole life.

Tina still runs her company that specializes in team-building. This allows Tina to buy only the things she loves for her garden antiques company. 

She states, “If you make a bit of cash then that’s an added bonus.” “And I’m happy to say that right now, the market is going mad.

“It seems young people now want things that have some history to them. They don’t want to believe there are 100 or 50 benches or tables that look exactly the same. Tina is proud of her benches, particularly those with carved ends that look like swans or other animals. 

Her range of urns, planters and other items is impressive. Currently, she has a wonderfully heavy, antique marble urn on sale for £348. 

A particular area of growth for Travers at Garden Art Plus is his antique Kadai fire bowls, which start at £395. 

He sources them from India and repairs them as needed. They are certainly far more attractive than a regular barbecue — and epitomise the new vogue for outdoor living. 

It is another matter to consider what Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth would think of them. 

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