Garden Design Classics: The Urn

Garden Design Classics: The Urn

Kimber Watson
May 2, 2013

For thousand of years, urns have been lending their classic design to gardens all over the world.  From the early Greek and Roman gardens to formal English landscapes, urns are the most common and enduring of decorative ornament to be incorporated into gardens throughout history.  Urns, with their timeless and stately appeal, are one of the rare garden design elements that can add architectural interest purely on their own.  

A garden urn can be defined as a vase or container that usually has a narrower neck with a foot or pedestal.  Ancient urns, or amphora, were originally used to store wine or liquids, grains, and even ashes.  Perhaps the first urn as garden ornamentation happened because of a crack or leak, and someone thought it could still look regal when placed in the garden!  Urns come in an array of materials as well as styles, ranging from Tuscan to French to Contemporary, just to name a few.  Whether your garden is formal or leans more modern, you should be able to find an urn that suits your garden's style.  

When urns are utilized in the right location, they can define a space or provide a focal point.  Urns at the end of a driveway can add curb appeal or flank an entrance for a dramatic greeting.  These grand centerpieces can add additional planting areas to patios, courtyards, and pool areas or lend an alluring element to an otherwise bare space.  And while we often have images of oversized, stately urns residing in European manors, the urn's classic shape with its elegant curves, can look just as regal on a smaller scale.


1. Traditional Home
2. Hortus 2
3. Traditional Home
4. Thinking Outside the Boxwood
5. The French Tangerine



10. Garden Web

(Images: As linked above.)

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