A taste of the grotesque in your yard

If you like garden statues, you probably have one in every corner of your yard, representing all sorts of figures from animals to children. Many people even have garden gnomes to guard the garden from any evil spirits. However, there's another kind of garden guardian that's been around for thousands of years, and that's the gargoyle.

The word gargoyle comes from the old French word "gargouille", a word for throat, which refers to the gargling sound of water that passes through the stone figure's throat and out of its mouth.

Gargoyles were originally used as architectural features that threw water out of a spout from the roofs of buildings. They've been used to direct rainwater since the time of the Egyptians, where they were found on the side of flat temple roofs to carry away water from sacred washing. Greeks and Romans, most notably the citizens of Pompeii, used marble or terra cotta gargoyles in the shape of animals to spout water from temples and villas.

Gerome Gargoyle

You've probably seen gargoyles in their "natural habitat" - on the tops of churches and cathedrals around the world. In this form, they're considered grotesque - an adjective used to describe the weird, ugly, strange or fantastic. They take the forms of twisted monsters or winged creatures that look a little like humans. Some people think that gargoyles were used to keep away evil spirits from churches and religious buildings, or used in religious instruction.

As an architectural feature, a true gargoyle is an object meant to drain water from a rainspout. Statues of gargoyles are known as grotesques and can be found in nearly all garden stores, and make a great addition to the garden if you're looking for something a little more medieval.

Gargoyles typically cost from about $18 to $950, depending on size and material. You can find the statues in resin, stone or marble and they can be placed anywhere in your garden, or even inside to complement your interior decor. Many people buy them to add a Gothic feel to their yard.

With a gargoyle amongst your flowers, you can amplify the already-magical feel of your yard, and create a fantasy that will delight and charm all your visitors of the day or night.

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