Yard Art Addiction

We have color now!

We have color now!

I’ve always been a sucker for yard art. It started simply enough with a few plastic flamingos when our daughter created a Relay for Life team in honor of her husband, Jon, who was battling melanoma. The team was called the Cancer Fighting Flamingos. Our daughter’s goal was to raise $70,000 dollars in seven years, and with the help of lot of people, including many of the people who I count as fans and who are reading this blog right now, the CFFs won through.  

Those few flamingos, I believe, were the initial source of my yard art infection.

Permanent Pink Cactus

Flamingo-Pink Cactus

When we first bought our place in Tucson, there was nothing green here.  Nothing.  Not even flowers.  I’m a big one for instant gratification, so one day, at a local nursery—I’m nothing if not a HOPEFUL gardener—I saw a brightly painted six foot tall iron iris and realized that was something that would add a spot of instant color to the barren northeast corner of our desolate back yard. The iris came home in the guise of that year’s Mother’s Day present. (Metal flowers last longer than real ones do.) Unfortunately the brightly colored paint all melted away after years out in Tucson’s unrelenting sun. Having a rusty iron iris in the corner of the yard in Arizona was utterly depressing, so we took it up to Washington where, two Mother’s Days ago, Bill and my son Tom repainted it. It’s now standing in blue, yellow, and green splendor on the patio in Bellevue.

The start of my addiction, a very tall chicken in the corner

The start of my addiction, a very tall chicken in the corner

A year or two passed. We remodeled the house here. Suddenly we had a back patio made of smooth red tile. There was one particular spot, an empty step leading nowhere where a door used to be, was just crying for . . . well . . . a chicken. I have no idea why a chicken needed to be there, but it did. So one day, I told Bill, “I’m taking the mini-van and going in search of a chicken.” I was gone for several hours, six or so. When I came home, Bill said, “Did you find a chicken?”  “Yes, I did,” I told him, “but you’ll need to come help unload it. In the accompanying photos, you’ll see that first very tall chicken—a wooden one standing next to the door frame on the back patio. That makes him several inches taller than I am, and he was the real start of my yard art obsession which, often as not, includes birds.

On of the flock of chickens.

One of the flock of chickens.

I have several chickens now—a flock here in Tucson and another one in Bellevue. One of the Bellevue flock, an incredibly lovely French porcelain one, came to grief this winter. I had him sitting out on the porch. The paint cracked, water got under the paint, and then it froze. Colorful pieces of paint fell off, leaving a pile of debris that was very reminiscent of fallen feathers. Too bad. I’m afraid that plucked rooster has gone away for good now, but the other members of the flocks remain—three metal ones, another pretty porcelain one, a concrete one, two wooden models, two clay ones, and my newest edition—one made of Mexican tile.  All of them are roosters, by the way, so no eggs get laid. I also have an owl balanced on a weather vane and a metal heron who was absolutely useless when it came to chasing away the real one. (That, of course, is another story all together.) Let’s just say it’s clear I’ve gone to the birds. 

PigPotPart of the remodeling process in Tucson included fixing the irrigation, so now we have pots lining the patio—pots that are currently filled with happy and thriving petunias, geraniums, and snapdragons. One of the pots happens to be a pig and another a little bull.  And there are various little metal creatures scattered here and there among them—including a wiener dog that bears only the slightest resemblance to Bella.

Bella and her look alike!

Bella and her look alike!

One of the things I can tell you is that Valentine’s Day always comes as a huge surprise to Bill.  Yes, it’s on February 14th every single year, but although he sees it coming, talks about it, and worries about it, when the day arrives, he’s never really ready.  This year I decided that, rather than giving him hints, I’d give him some actual help.  A few weeks ago when we went shopping for new flower pots, we saw two extra items—the brand new tile chicken and a flock of new metal flowers to replace the now absent iris, four short pieces and two tall ones—a permanent bouquet rather than a temporary one.  I wasn’t driving the mini van the day I went to pick them out, and a mini van was needed so we went back the next day for the tall ones and also for that pesky tile rooster that was calling to me from the other side of town.

The flower garden

The flower garden

Bill had told me in advance that if anything else really spoke to me, there was still some room in his Valentine’s Day budget. Give the girl and inch, and she thinks she’s a ruler. I knew there were metal horses there, and I’m always looking for something for that bare back corner, now that the iris is gone. I thought one of those rearing metal horses would fill the bill—until I saw well . . . the bill. The tall horse was WAY more than the Valentine’s budget. The shorter horse that would barely peek over the wall was also beyond my budget guidelines. And then, next to one of the shorter horses, I saw something else—an elephant with a small red tag attached to his tail. I thought the red tag meant the elephant was already sold. What it really meant is that the elephant was ON SALE!!! for a third of the price as that very expensive taller horse.So the elephant came home. I didn’t bring him in the minivan—he had to be delivered. But he lives in the back yard now, dashing out from among a grove of palm trees. Wait, are you saying you missed the elephant in that first photo?  Maybe you’d better take another, closer look.

White Elephant Sale, well sort of.

White Elephant Sale, well sort of.

Yard art. From flamingos to elephants it is indeed an addiction—and a very happy addiction at that.

Happy Valentine’s Day, folks. And may all your bouquets, permanent or temporary, be beautiful.  

14 thoughts on “Yard Art Addiction

  1. Beautiful, just beautiful! Thank you for sharing your oasis in these colorful photos. It was a lovely day there too, wasn’t it?

  2. Love that story!! I so far don’t have the addition of yard art. I do have a very small fairy garden that my granddaughter built in the corner of my front yard yesterday!

  3. Yard art addiction is a wonderful thing also having a partner who supports you love of Lawn art. My husband always asks if this is the last of it? I tell him it like SHOES you ALWAYS NEED ONE MORE. lol I had a family member who made these BEAUTIFUL Cows. I had a herd until the California Sun took them down . We had them for over 20 years. Now I like cement lasts forever and you xan paint it or not.
    Please have a WONDERFUL week. I so enjoy my Friday morning Coffee with you. While waiting and waiting for you next story. .. Jan

  4. Love this! It’s the best quote of the week for me! Contender for quote of the year!

    “Give the girl an inch, and she thinks she’s a ruler.”

  5. A very colorful yard. I wish I could see it in person for the real effect. The only thing I don’t like is the large fake flowers against the wall. They look out of place to me.

    I had two pink flamingos in my back yard for years. My children wouldn’t allow me to put them in the front yard.

  6. Thank you so much for the virtual tour of your Tuscon garden. It relieved my day of Seattle greyness. When my daughter and I shared a duplex we had a number of pieces of yard art, some in the front flower beds. We had a delightful little gargoyle sitting on our front stoop, and somehow it got kicked off. Into smithereens. I always suspected the ultra “Christians” across the street, who were heard to mutter about devilish idols … After that we moved our pink plastic flamingos to the front yard, just to stick up two fingers (British gesture of defiance).

  7. I loved your blog today and saved all the pictures to my computer. No wonder you are such a great author – you are surrounded by beauty. Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Would you mind telling where you found the metal flowers? I love them. To the person who commented about not liking them —if you lived in Az. you would know there is always a water shortage. Metal flowers save water plus they are very pretty. I love yard art.

    • I have two sisters living in Tucson and have visited them several times at different times of the year. I know what the climate is like. I just don’t like metal flowers.

  9. And I loved this comment, very good pun;
    I knew there were metal horses there, and I’m always looking for something for that bare back corner,

    Do you think that with the sun your elephant may turn gray after a few seasons?

  10. I’ve got some crocus coming up and I just noticed a large bunch of daffodils. Though the winter weather was short this year, I’m starving for color. I’m waiting and watching like a little kid on Christmas eve. I’ve been in my “new” house for less than a year, so I’m still learning what is planted here. I marvel at the surprises, and imagine the women who planted them. I join mine with theirs and it’s as if our fingertips touched, if only for a moment – across generations, across time and space.

    Your garden is wonderful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *