GAZING BALL…Reflections of a Garden

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March 21, 2022 by Sue Ercolini - Views: 191

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GAZING BALL…Reflections of a Garden

S280-1.jpgOver the years, I have learned a lot about gardening.  I can see the vision of my grandmother’s beautiful cottage garden and remember totting larger than me bean poles to my father's vegetable garden.  Being introduced to gardening at such an early age has its benefits when it comes to growing plants.  You also learn to appreciate its beauty and connection to nature…probably the reason for my wildlife gardening style.  But learning never stops even when it comes to gardening.  Most gardeners can spend a lifetime going to garden nurseries and asking questions, joining garden clubs, taking classes like the Master Gardener´s course or just talking to other gardeners.   We learn things like beautiful gardens don't just have green leaves, but that various shapes and sizes of foliage can add interest, color, and texture.  Our garden reflections can be wonderful memories.   But garden reflections can also be a view into our gardens just by adding a Gazing Ball.


For many years the gazing ball has been controversial.  And I must admit that I was one of the many that thought they were ugly and marred a beautiful garden.  But in recent years, I’ve started to appreciate what they can add to a landscape in both color and reflection.  And the real trick is to partially conceal the Color Balls in a way of leaving a little to the imagination.  While Reflective Spheres can show the beauty of the surrounding garden with its mystery and intrigue if it is thoughtfully placed.  They can look special if we treat them like they are special.   Like a blue mosaic ball placed on a pedestal of a broken birdbath next to early blooming irises enhancing the blue tint of the white flower.

What you may not know is that it is rich in history and legend dating back to Venice in the 13th century Italy when glass blowing was said to be invented.  Over the years, the gazing ball has been called by many names, Garden Ball, Gazing Globe, and Garden Globe.  It has been referred to as a Witch Ball, Butler Globe, Globe of Happiness, and Victorian Ball.  Antonio Nier, a fifteenth century priest, called it a Sphere of Light and, as time passed, the colorful ball became a permanent fixture in European gardens and homes.  During the 1800’s, a young, handsome, slightly mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria adorned his palace, gardens, and ponds with gazing globes.  But the gazing ball only gained a hold in American gardens in the late 19th century.    Along the way legends formed about the mysterious powers of the ball.  It was believed that gazing globes would attract fairies and various other mystical, magical spirits bringing happiness, good luck, and prosperity to those who owned them.  It was also known to ward off evil spirits, misfortune, illness, and witches!


30 year old stainless steel Gazing Ball

Early on the gazing globe had practical purposes in a southern antebellum garden.  Placed strategically by the path from the front gate, southerners could see from the veranda who was calling before the caller could see them, allowing plenty of time to prepare refreshments for their guest or to hide, whichever was fitting!   In Victorian times (1837 to 1901), the butler ball served as a mirror for servants to see when guests needed assistance without staring at them throughout the meal.  And a gazing globe carefully positioned on the front stoop of a Victorian home allowed a chaperon to discreetly observe a young woman and her suitor.

The use of garden balls went out of favor shortly after the Victorian Era, but they have recently made a major comeback and can be found in almost any garden center.  They are available in many different colors and sizes, mosaics, balls that light up, and highly reflective mirror-like ones that show your garden from different views.

The gazing ball has served many purposes over the years.  But today, the colorful globes can add an attractive bit of flair to the garden.  They can be placed on pedestals or on the ground tucked among flowers adding a bit of color, floated in ponds for interest and movement, or just give a reflection of the garden and sky with one glance.


So, you decide...gazing ball or not!  But for now, I plan to sit back and enjoy the view of the garden.  But don't worry, I will see you coming and have a glass of sweet tea for you to drink!♣


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