Express yourself in the garden

Olivia 1

Olivia Portera’s original wall art at her home in Tuscaloosa

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Some people probably consider my yard and garden a bit “trashy,” but I don’t care. I love to find quirky objects as I stroll along city streets, and this time of the year is the best. People are cleaning out and throwing away things they consider junk and I come along and drag it home (one man’s junk is another girl’s treasure, don’t you know).

I once found a settee – one of those old glider jobs – that had been painted with the words “Set here.” I called a friend with a pick up and we hauled it home. As a surprise he painted it! No! I loved the ‘set here’ command!

I found an oak washstand – had to call the friend again. It stayed on my back porch for a year until I couldn’t stand the smell of it anymore. I now understand why someone threw it out.

But most of my “finds” find a permanent home in my garden – a rusty old bike, a discarded porch railing, a wooden rocker create sort of “punctuation marks” in the garden. It may not be beautiful, but it’s never boring.

Check out the interesting wall hanging (above) my friend Olivia put together for one of her porches in her home in Tuscaloosa. Created from old farm and garden implements collected over a lifetime, it has traveled with her through her husband’s last two stints as a university president – first at Mississippi State University, and he is now chancellor of the University of Alabama system. She is preserving the past, and decorating her garden at the same time.

I have tried in vain to construct a similar arrangement, but it has been destroyed twice by high winds. I called Olivia, and she revealed her secret. The implements are nailed to a wooden base. Oh, well, sure – Elmer’s glue just wasn’t up to the challenge.

Here are some other ideas I’m working on:more yard art - spiral

A rock garden (at left ) – so plants, just rocks, and a mosaic made with broken plates (below). When my boys were young, they were always breaking dishes. I saved them, and now I know why.

And easiest of all a bird bath from a big terra cotta pot and saucer.yard art-mosaicbirdbath

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