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Gazing Globes Make Unbeatable Accents
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Throughout the South they are called gazing balls, gazing globes and garden globes. You have probably seen those brightly colored Christmas-like balls in the landscape and wondered what they were all about. Are they heavy, are they breakable and what do you do with them?
Until I got "up close and personal" with one, I was mystified as to their weight, too. As a kid, I played marbles and used some called steelies, so I figured these things in the garden must be like giant steelies except weighing 50 pounds or more. Then I thought maybe they are like bowling balls except coated with a metallic finish. Well I was wrong. They are very light and made of glass and so they can be broken.
Supposedly something similar was used back in the Medieval period as protection devices. Workers in the fields would keep one nearby so they could look into it while working and see if an enemy was approaching from behind.
They became very popular in the Victorian period as garden globes, which I suspect is where we got our most ardent love for them. Then around the turn of the century, children were caught gazing into the ball to see their reflection and then became gazing globes.
In the Midwest during the Depression they became "Good Luck Balls" as they were placed in the yard as a symbol that everything was going to be OK.
Today, they are best known as garden accents, and their popularity is increasing once again. Gazing globes make a powerful, attractive and imaginative addition to the garden or patio. They are unbeatable as accents.
They come in many colors such as silver, gold, red, blue, green, cranberry and teal. They also come in a variety of sizes from a softball to a bowling ball to a basketball. They can be placed on ornate concrete pedestals, birdbath pedestals, wooden pedestals, antique wrought iron or in Old World pottery-like urns. Some even come with their own pin-like pedestal to stick in the garden.
One of my favorites can be hung from a tree and has a bird feeder on top. Most of the time you see them in full sunlight where they really shine. But you will be surprised to see what they do for the shade garden. They excel in this location.
I think it would be hard to go wrong with gazing globes in the landscape, but I have seen some outstanding combinations based mostly on color schemes in which you might plant flowers.
For instance, try a blue gazing globe with black-eyed Susans like the Indian Summer or this year's Mississippi Medallion winner narrow leaf zinnia. I like the green ones tucked in a bed of bananas or cannas but the red also perform well in this location.
The cranberry globes is gorgeous with flowers like the Pink Wave petunia or Pink Tapien verbena. The gold globes are striking with Homestead Purple verbena and Hilo Princess angelonia.
Gazing globes are not just for outside, a lot of people bring them inside for the holidays and even keep them permanently and prominently placed inside the sun room. Since they are made out of glass a hail storm can wreak havoc on your gazing globe so you may want to bring them inside during those times of severe weather.
Most of them are in the $35 to $45 range without the stands. The more unique and ornate globes can reach $100 to more than $200. They may not bring you good luck, but try a gazing globe in your landscape, and I'll bet it will get you cheerful every time you see it in the garden.