The Garden Guide

Lead garden ornament - review and comment

Landscape and Garden Product Directory

Lead is dull material - in colour and habit. Yet it is also a very peaceful material and confers this quality on gardens. Lead is extremely durable and a great many more lead ornaments would doubtless have survived if the suitablilty of lead for making bullets had not been discovered.

The first use of lead in gardens was by the Romans. They used lead pipes to supply pools and fountains. From the middle ages onwards, lead was used to make water tanks. They were highly ornate and many survive.

Lead then came into use in the manufacture of garden ornament, valued for its cheapness - relative to marble. Lead ornaments were painted white to resemble stone.

Since the Arts and Crafts movement encouraged the appreciation of materials, lead has been valued for its own sake. It is difficult to imagine how it was every otherwise - except that stone was itself painted by the Greeks, the Egyptians and by the medieval cathedral builders. It is the artistic appreciation of colours and materials, as distinct from their symbolism, which has caused lead to be valued.

Lead is silver when first cast. a greyish hue. It goes dark grey and then, over the years, lead develops a whitish patina which is an excellent foil to virulent greens, reds, yellows and blues.

Lead mask

Lead cherub