If you’re drawn to 19th-century style, you’ll be pleased to learn that vintage garden decor is a trend this spring and summer, for both inside and outside.
The look involves florals, weathered wood, wire, period typography, bird motifs and other elements with a Victorian vibe, says Tom Mirabile, a trend watcher for Lifetime Brands. The appeal lies largely in the era’s garden-as-haven aesthetic, he says. “We look at the Victorian age as an era when there was just a lot of time.” Conservatories, greenhouses and aviaries were popular in stately Victorian-era homes, but even modest residences might have a little birdcage. Also fashionable were ferns, palms and terrariums. For those not inclined to tackle the antique stores in the River Market or West Bottoms for the real thing, retailers have their replicas ready.
Pottery Barn has miniature greenhouses this season made of white-painted distressed pine and glass, perfect terrariums for small plants. A replica of a vintage birdcage is made of wire painted hunter green; it’s tall enough to house an elegant orchid, but it would also work as a tabletop accent. On a grander scale is the retailer’s Conservatory bird cage, a nearly 5-foot-long mahogany and wire piece that would fit on a console table or a long shelf. While it’s dramatic in and of itself, a collection of objects would look amazing inside it. Floral motifs — roses in particular — were all the rage during the Victorian era. Art and textiles featured illustrated flora and fauna from home and exotic parts of the world. Bradbury & Bradbury now offers a couple of art wallpapers derived from illustrations by period artists William Morris and Walter Crane. Fenway has an art nouveau-style pattern with irises at its heart, while Woodland showcases the artistry of both Morris and Crane: winsome rabbits and long-legged deer cavorting across a leafy landscape. Designer Voytek Brylowski offers prints of works by Victorian illustrators Mary and Elizabeth Kirby. Parrots, toucans, lilies and hummingbirds are hand-colored, vibrant examples that can be mounted in simple frames and placed near a patio door — or anywhere the gentility and charm of the period might be appreciated. “By digitally enhancing old images, I feel that I give them new life and preserve historically significant illustrations and drawings by these famous naturalists,” says Brylowski, who is based in Wroclaw, Poland and sells his work on Etsy. Jennifer Stuart, an artist in Tulsa, Okla. with her work for sale on Zazzle, has designed a collection of plates depicting damask and floral prints of the 19th century on patio-friendly melamine. And Pier 1’s Floria collection has a vintage damask pattern in garnet, soft blue and grass-green in a collection of indoor/outdoor rugs and throw pillows. Cast-iron and wicker furniture and containers were used both indoors and out in the late 19th century, just as today we use rattan chairs in the family room and the garden, or iron plant stands in the kitchen as well as the patio. Restoration Hardware’s Hampshire and Bar Harbor all-weather wicker collections include chairs and sofas in restful shades of cream, gray and mocha. Early visitors to resorts in New York’s Adirondack Mountains discovered the eponymous big wooden chair that’s withstood hundreds of years of style changes. Hayneedle carries a selection in real wood and Polywood, a recycled plastic lookalike. West Elm’s collection of soft yet sturdy braided baskets, woven of bankuan grass, evoke French laundry bins. Use them as storage in any room; the natural color makes them versatile. Turquoise chicken-wire baskets and cloches can be found at Farmhouse Wares, which also has a vintage-style garden-supply shop sign in the form of a hand. Galvanized planter pots in sets of six would make great receptacles for herbs or miniature blooms.
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