I've thought about it, and the garden stuff topic can't be disposed of in a couple of posts. It's a book, maybe even a series of books. Serious research, thoughtful explication, all that.
I’ll have to wait until I have the time to really devote to this. However, in the meantime, I could record some notes for…
Categories and sub-categories for a taxonomy of garden objects, including:
There's more, but you can see how complex this can get.
“Religious,” for example, is a big category and one that foreshadows many of the icons we see in contemporary gardens. I would suggest that the Virgin Mary was once very common in gardens, but has since been replaced by sculptural images of St. Francis of Assisi.
“Mythological” is very interesting, too. What is there about a garden that implies fairies and dwarves (surely the precursor for gnomes)? And then, why only fairies and gnomes? Why not Aphrodite and Adonis—Adonis's blood is said to have created the anemone? Much more interesting, I would think, though the prospect of commissioning an Adonis/Aphrodite statue is somewhat daunting.
Indeed, nineteenth century garden designers and their ancestors did think in grand mythological terms. Today, we’ve boiled it down to a group of vaguely evocative mass-produced objects.
But I digress. On to the taxonomy!