David Coton was delighted to recently meet with Frank Honald, President and Owner of Henri Studio USA, who had flown in from Chicago to discuss the opportunity of bringing their products back into the UK next year.
Whether contemporary or classical, plain or highly decorative, as stone furniture is made from a natural material, its design will blend easily into most garden surroundings. Each type of stone imbues the furniture with particular characteristics, and you have a wide choice to suit individual taste and the landscape that you wish to create.
Made mostly from reconstituted stone that ages beautifully, granite or sandstone, the range of stone furniture that's available from leading makers Eastern Connections, Borderstone and Haddonstone has the ability to create a contemporary or classical ambiance, showcasing the wonderful qualities of stone.
Eastern Connections offer benches and tables that are sleekly designed without an excess of decoration. This is especially true of their multi-hued sandstone furniture which features eye-catching rainbow colours that weave through the stone, their intriguing appearance means that no ornamentation is required to elevate these superb pieces from the ordinary to something quite splendid.
Much of the Eastern Connections' granite range is available in a choice of colour and features a mix of polished surfaces and roughly hewn stone, simple benches for two people, patio sets or the more substantial 'Hayworth' bench with its high back and sculpted arms.
Many of their benches gently curve to add interest and polishing emphasizes the beautiful structure of the stone. Patio sets are available with benches wrapped around a central table, including a very striking example made from basalt with a jet black irregular polished top surrounded by matching stools.
Borderstone offer an eclcetic collection of stone benches and patio sets that vary from the classically inspired to more esoteric pieces that are quite whimsical in design but all take full advantage of the amount of detail that can be crisply delineated in high quality cast stone.
As an example of their unusual offerings, the Woodland Patio Set with a table, two benches and two chairs, replicates furniture made from tree stumps and logs together with a bowl of fruit also made from stone in the middle. More refined and no less striking is the Japanese Garden Patio Set with an octangonal table supported by a pagoda-like central column.
More mainstream benches have a classical feel with straight or curved tops and sturdy supports that are discretely styled, beautifully embossed with lion heads or more lightheartedly taking on the shape of a squirrel munching on a hazlenut.
Haddonstone are well known for their classical stonework which boasts ornamentation that is both magnificent and extravagant, taking its lead from the excesses of Versailles. Manufactured from only the best cast stone, these benches and tables are fabulous pieces of artistry.
A fine example of their classical work is the Raphael Seat supported by four rams couchant. Containing an immense amount of detail, it has both early English renaissance and Etruscan infulences and would look fabulous in any formal setting. There's also the stunning curved chimera bench which rests on three of these mythical creatures.
Haddonstone's circular Corinthian table is marvellously porportioned and decorated with acanthus leaves, there's another notable table with the top placed above four sitting lions, and an oblong table with dolphins forming the support. If you enjoy the blend of old and new, there are scrolled table supports that can be used in conjunction with a glass or similar top.
In addition to these market leaders, further classic and modern furniture is offered by Kelkay, Lotus Stone and Henri Studio, using reconstituted stone and granite to complete a collection that should have something to suit both contemporary and classical landscapes.
There's no doubt that television provides gardeners with inspiration, sound advice and good ideas, that's why we're all looking forward to new programmes and the return of old favourites during 2020.
Sustainability and a growing awareness of wildlife are two of the key gardening trends identified by the Royal Horticultural Society for 2020, with gardeners in a position where they can make a substantial impact regarding environmental issues.
Gardening is such a popular activity with interest only increasing over recent years that the magazine rack in your local newsagent or supermarket is packed with publications offering inspiration and practical advice.
Although the days are short and the view from our Garden Centre is dull and overcast, David Coton suggests various jobs that can be done in the garden during the month of January.