To Gnome is to Love ‘Em: The Rustic Garden Ornament & Decor List

Maybe because the sun has finally beaten back the rainclouds here in Austin, or maybe it’s because I live in an apartment and I want what I can’t have, but I’ve had gardens on the brain recently. (see the last entry The House of the Wild Bee). So I’ve pulled together this list inspired by my green dreams. Full disclaimer, despite the pun in the title, this list contains gno garden  gnomes. (I gnow, I gnow, I’m sorry)

Garden decor is a crucial element of making your garden feel like home. The shabby chic /rustic look is a popular theme–gardening is a simple pleasure, and it makes sense that gardeners want their design to resemble a simpler time. It’s also an easy design to maintain, as any wear from exposure to the elements only adds to the authenticity. Some of our other past entries have ventured into the realm of outdoor design, like our entries about mason jar design , rustic weddings, and summer backyard DIY projects.

French Country Birdhouse by Bacon Square Farm


Bacon Square Farms is a former cattle and hog farm-turned-workshop in Mankato, Minnesota. Owners Pete and Tanya converted their cattle barn into a metalworks shop and their pig feeding station into a woodshop.

Their garden decor–like the above birdhouse–combines the pastoral color scheme of French countryside design with the weathered and rusted materials of shabby chic. The result is a storefront of creations that seem fresh and nostalgic at the same time. Take a stroll through their garden decor by clicking here.  Bacon Square Farms also runs a blog about their process and their life on the farm. Check it out here.

Slate Garden Markers by Slateplate 

garden tagsTwo things make these garden markers–designed by Raleigh’s Slateplate–stand out: Firstly, the markers are made from black slate stone, which gives their unique chalkboard appearance. Secondly, they’re pretty tall. The markers stand about a foot high, making them a more prominent feature of your garden design than smaller, paper markers. Your order also comes with a white grease pen that won’t wash off in the rain.

The good folks of Slateplate specialize in products handmade from natural black slate. You can check out their storefront here.

Reclaimed Wooden Heart by Alma Boheme 

wooden heart

Savannah, Georgia’s Alma Boheme is a shop that works wonders with wood and wool. Their wooden indoor/outdoor design is often made with reclaimed materials–like this rustic, heart-shape wooden wall hanging. Buyers also can have the heart painted with a custom color or personalized message. Check out their shop here.

Reclaimed Wooden Planters from CountryByTheBumpkins


CountryByTheBumpkins makes decor from home, gardens, and special events–especially rustic-themed weddings. Their products are often made from reclaimed materials, making your garden even more ecologically friendly.  These planters made from reclaimed fence wood, thus retaining a character no big box corporation will ever imitate successfully. Check out their charming storefront here.

Mason Jar Planter by Wayne Works


This planter from Wayne Works of Dallas, TX can be used inside or outside to grow smaller plants like herbs. It’s a beautiful union of older materials and modern sensibility. The metal bands holding the mason jars are made of hammered copper, which over time will begin to weather and oxidize, giving the planter even more of a rustic aura. There’s plenty of awesome wall ornaments, lamps, and furniture to check out at Wayne Work’s store. Click here to have a look.


The House of the Wild Bee: Handmade Bee Hotels

Recently, I’ve been fascinated by garden structures called “wild bee hotels”. These odd little buildings vary widely in style and construction–some are roughly the same shape as birdhouses, but instead of a single hole in the front, the face is composed many hollow reeds where bees make their homes. Some hotels are simply a series of holes bored into a log or stone, while others most others feature a combination of these styles. Among all the different types of bee hotels, the purpose stays the same: to provide a home for the lesser known solitary bee, also known as the wild bee.

Feature photo: A bamboo Mason Bee House by The Bird on the Tree. Click here to check it out.

A driftwood inspired bee home for your garden from Flotsam and Jetsam crafts

A driftwood inspired bee home for your garden from Flotsam and Jetsam Crafts

About Solitary Bees

Only about 7 of the nearly 20,000 species of bees live in honey-producing hive societies. Most of other species are solitary. This means every female (not just a queen) is fertile and inhabits a nest by herself. Typically these are tunnels in the ground, but often wild bees will inhabit hollow reeds, twigs, or holes in wood.


Quirky Bee Hotel design courtesy of England’s Wudwerx

Why build or buy a wild bee house?

If you already have a garden, bee hotels attract these helpful insects to your backyard. Although they don’t produce honey or beeswax, wild bees still act as pollinators for your garden. Maybe best of all, solitary bees are often stingerless. Even species with stingers– lacking a hive to protect– are non-aggresive and only sting when provoked.


A more modern, tear drop-shaped aluminum hotel from Ox + Monkey Home

As you may be aware, the world honey bee population has been in decline in recent years. Many other species of bee are also vanishing due to the loss of habitat and feeding grounds. By providing a nesting place for wild bees, you’re helping preserve creatures essential to the survival of the ecosystem. It’s also a great way to certify your yard as an official wildlife habitat–according to the National Wildlife Foundation. 


Unique, no finish design from Toronto’s Spade and Feather