SOURCE: Copper Development Association

Copper Development Association

May 05, 2009 10:56 ET

Copper in the Garden: Accessories Made With Copper Give New Meaning to "Green Thumb"

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - May 5, 2009) - With hopes of April showers bringing May flowers, homeowners will again be tending their gardens and planting an assortment of flowerbeds, fruits and vegetables for the spring and summer seasons.

Although working in the garden is a therapeutic and relaxing hobby, it's not uncommon for gardeners to spend hours each day laying mulch, pruning hedges, watering crops or planting an array of new flowers to add color and splash back into a yard decimated by winter's wrath.

And with the investment of all this time spent working outdoors, many gardeners want to do more than just fix up the garden. Home and garden centers today are seeing a booming business helping gardening "hobbyists" transform their yards into private sanctuaries complete with trellises, statuary, fountains and water features. And copper is the building material of choice when it comes to decorating and adding elegance to their backyard retreats.

For centuries, copper has been used by builders for its beauty, longevity and practicality. Not only does copper offer a warm and natural look, whether glazed to remain shiny bright or allowed to age gracefully to a weatherworn gray-green patina, this all-purpose metal offers sustainable qualities not attainable with other building and construction materials.

Some of the same attributes that attract architects and builders to copper -- durability, easy installation and low maintenance -- also attracts gardeners to a proliferation of handcrafted copper outdoor ornaments and garden décor. Each year, homeowners spend as much sprucing up their yards as they do decorating their home's interiors.

"Copper is the metal of choice by many for its aesthetic beauty and rugged properties," said Wayne Seale, an architect and regional manager with the Copper Development Association. "It was once used primarily by architects and designers to adorn the outside of lavish homes, castles and cathedrals, but now copper is being selected by homeowners and landscapers to add interest and beauty to backyards and gardens."

Garden accessories such as statutes and sculptures, bird baths and feeders, weathervanes, lanterns, torches, wind chimes, planters, garden stakes, sundials and trellises are typically available in copper or brass, an alloy of copper.

"We sell some copper birdbaths that are quite popular," said Margaret Csala, associate director for the Shop in the Garden at The New York Botanical Garden. "The nice thing about copper accessories is the way it gets a green patina over time. People often want that aged look in their gardens."

What's more, many of these accessories are being hand-made by amateur gardeners and homeowners as do-it-yourself projects. Directions for making many types of copper ornaments, including a step-by-step guide for building an ornate yet functional copper trellis, can be found on the Internet. Learn more on the Reader's Digest site.

Trellises, which come in all shapes, designs and sizes, can be used as platforms for climbing plants, as graceful entryways to garden paths or purely as an objet d'art. These metal structures are easily made using inexpensive, readily available copper tubing found at hardware or plumbing supply stores, and building one doesn't require a degree in metallurgy or the skills of a coppersmith. The only tools needed are a tubing cutter, solder and propane torch, hammer and saw. Anyone with a little imagination and some time on their hands can create their own handcrafted copper trellis.

Beyond their good looks, copper trellises are superior garden accessories because copper is an extremely durable material, requiring virtually no maintenance -- regardless of season or weather.

Garden ornaments such as wind chimes, weathervanes and planters come in a variety of styles and sizes. They can be made of solid copper, stamped or sculpted by hand, left uncoated to weather naturally or patinated to look like they've been outdoors for ages -- they may even be coated with a clear, durable finish to maintain their original bright, shiny look.

These decorative pieces are fashioned into staked ornaments or wind chimes and can be made to look like sculpted, full-bodied animals, or be shaped into flowers with petals made of hand-hammered copper. With shapes ranging from manatees, birds, cats, butterflies and dolphins to suns, moons and stars, there's likely to be something to suit every taste.

Planters are popular copper garden motif. Often coated with an antique finish, they are available as boxes, urns and large pots. Sundials, placed in the center of a sun-filled garden for obvious reasons, are another staple. Frequently made of solid brass, with or without faux verdigris (green or bluish patina) highlights, they typically include intricate designs such as Celtic knot-work, some may also include sentimental inscriptions like Robert Browning's poem, "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be."

Many companies today also offer custom-handcrafting services giving homeowners a chance to add a personal touch.

Bruce Snyder, owner of Copper Magic in Saugerties, NY, has been creating copper garden art and accessories for many years.

"Besides the way copper looks, whether it has a patina, is clear coated or allowed to oxidize on its own, people are fascinated and intrigued by its durability and longevity," said Snyder, who takes great care in his handcrafted outdoor sculptures and art pieces.

"Some like the beauty of shiny copper that is preserved with an industrial polyvinyl clear coating," Snyder added. "Others like to have their sculptures pre-treated with green patina that I have formulated and developed over the years. Then there are some that wish to let the copper age and patina on its own over time, which can take about 5 to 7 years."

While a downturn in the economy and increasing cost of copper materials has brought the market for garden art down, Snyder expects a rebound in demand.

"I think that the garden art market will come back as the economy improves," he added. After all, it always does.

Contact Information