May 27, 2012 in Features

Old garden tools, metal toys, wine glasses can add flavor to garden

Cedar Burnett Associated Press

SEATTLE – I feel like Alice in Wonderland. Sprinting past an alligator drinking a soda pop and a T-rex playing guitar, I lean toward a family of colorful metal toadstools that come to my knee.

“Aren’t those great?” asked Jim Honold as he ushered me through a forest of recycled oil drum statues at his Home & Garden Art store.

I’ve come to this Disneyland for gardeners seeking inspiration for easy ways to add whimsy to gardens, and Honold is giving me the rundown.

“Adding art to your garden is an extension of your identity,” he said as we brush past a murder of concrete crows. “Any personality, any hobby, can be represented – classical, funky, seasonal – you name it.”

Looking around, it appears he’s right. There’s the giant metal umbrella coat-stand for a classy infusion of humor; a multitude of hobby-inspired birdhouses; 4-foot metal lobsters for fishing enthusiasts; and an old tricycle planter box aimed at the nostalgic set.

But how do you actually start adding lawn art to an outdoor living space?

“Instead of throwing stuff in the attic or garage, put it out in the open,” Honold said.

He suggests displaying old garden tools, metal toys, or wine glasses and decanters.

“Focus on what’s readily available or representative of your area,” Honold added. “Coastal areas might have fishing nets and glass floats, and places close to rural communities will have farm equipment.” In Washington state, he said, “people bring us old saws and ask us to laser-cut their name or address on them.”

For a big splash, Honold recommends an artistic gate. Whether installing custom wrought-iron doors with elaborate scenes on them or simply taking a can of bright red paint to a basic home-store model, gates can reflect personality and set the tone for the rest of the house.

“Think about all the things a gate can say,” Honold says. “ ‘Stay out!’ or ‘We’re fun people!’ ”

If the message you’re trying to send is “We’re magical,” find ways to add fairy elements to your garden.

Greenspirit Arts’ Sally Smith knows the power of a good fairy house. She creates custom ones in her studio in Wadhams, N.Y., that have inspired a calendar and greeting card line.

While most of her houses aren’t made for extensive outdoor use, she says her calendars and online tutorial often serve as inspiration for people to create their own.

“Making a fairy house is something we all innately know how to do because of the child in us,” Smith said.

For a do-it-yourself fairy house that can stand up to the elements, Smith suggests working with stone as a base, and attaching a stick and moss roof and a wooden door. Decorations can be found objects – beach glass, pine cones – even dollhouse furniture.

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