Is Yard Art, Art, or Not?

in art •  last year  (edited)

It’’s yard art to some; poor taste to others.
I prefer “whimsy”.

I don’t know where the practice of creating yard art originated, nor do I know why anyone would want to indulge in the placing of random things among settings of cared-for plants. It just seems to be something people who have gardens do. I suppose it may express something about the gardener’s attitude towards his or her landscape creation. It can certainly express something about the gardener!

<Sometimes, the addiction can begin when you are walking along, see something, and your mind says, “I got to put that in my garden!”


Every garden needs a concrete rabbit statue; just because. It’s not as if we don’t have real rabbits, because we do, but it is also nice to be reminded of the little wild creatures and also of my rescued pet rabbits from long ago, Thumper and Midnight. These are near where I park my truck, and I’m reminded of the pet bunnies almost daily. It’s like having their spirits visit briefly.

The guard unicorn was purchased by my SOIC (Significant Other In Charge) when we first bought our house and parcel of land. The SOIC had alway loved the idea of unicorns and insisted that having one as a guard would protect our home from all evil spirits. It has not move a single centimeter since we placed it there over 30 years ago. Seeing it as it guards the driveway approach is like being welcomed home. After not having a name for many years and after the SOIC became involved with computers, she named the unicorn “Skittles.” She said that was a programmer joke.


The Saint Francis statue is almost a requirement for animal and nature lovers since he is the patron saint of plants and animals. I chose to believe that Mother Nature supports the shelter given by his concern for their safety. Hopefully, through some magic, a safe(r) haven is given on our homestead. We’re friends now so we call him “Frank.”
How to not do it

The broken section of the square support post is a reminder of my own inexperience. I was using my tractor for the first time, tried to back it into the barn, and the front bucket caught on the post as I gently move backwards, snapping the post without even knowing it was being pulled. I learned two things: Tractors are very powerful, and I needed more practice driving it. It took four hours to replace the post since it was holding up part of the long porch roof along the barn’s side.
After all that, I thought it should be saved as a reminder. Hence the title, “Broken Expectations.”

This is my gargoyle. Medieval churches had them, so why not add one here? His name is Gargle. Gargle, the Gargoyle. He has no purpose whatever, especially since the SOIC demanded that I remove him from the mantle over the fireplace. She said it made her nervous to have Gargle staring at her as if to pounce on her any moment. I told her I would do it when I grew up.

“You just did,” she informed me.

He did look a bit menacing after I grew up.

He now has a perch overlooking Buddha’s Garden and is still waiting to pounce on something.


“Gnarly the Gnome” also has no purpose other than to be the token gnome in the garden. My friend Laura, from, Britain gave it to us as a present, remembering a previous conversation where we all talked about the poor taste people showed when they put gnomes in their gardens. After hearty laughs, she informed us that her Mom had a dozen gnomes in her small garden in Bristol. Gnarly now has had a permanent place guarding the Creeping Jenny plants and has become quite faded doing his duty.

Serious art object

The sculpture of the birds and nest was another purchase by the SOIC. She got it to decorate a bare dividing wall I had just built to separate a small sitting area from the place where I kept the riding lawn mower. Now we can see a real object de art. Since I don’t have any stories about it, it remains nice, but not with much personality

Green Man

The Greenman is Nature’s representative for us. SOIC and I found him in a shop in Asheville, NC, long ago. He is our Pagan representative in the garden, just as a reminder where our cultural roots originated. He also serves as the logo for my publishing company.

Bronze marker

The bronze Geological Survey marker was a found object when the SOIC and I were exploring an old graveyard in Lancaster,County, SC. There was a pile of debris near the cemetery; quite overgrown and filled with tree roots. We looked through it to see if any gravestones had been tossed aside, as often happens in neglected cemeteries. There were broken pieces of granite, but we also found the survey marker. They were used to mark a very precisely surveyed point for surveyors to begin a survey with a known location. Now, GPS satellites are used for that. Being industrious, we brought it home and included it as part of our garden path.



His job is to remind us of contemplation of self, and of our place in the universe as we seek our own path. He presides over his own secluded garden, encircled by a walkway of brick pavers.


Reggie, the hedgehog was another gift from the SOIC to me two decades ago. She said it was because I needed a hedgehog, so I accepted the gift willingly since I did need a hedgehog, even if made from concrete. Reggie sat indoors near the fireplace for a long time until the SOIC suggested that It might be time to, “Take Reggie outdoors so he can socialize with the other creatures; he’s getting bored after not moving for six years.” I moved him, as directed, but he still has not moved after being freed to the Buddha Garden.

There are other things gracing – or cluttering) our garden but it’s hard to wax nostalgic over a pile of rocks from a caldera in New Mexico, tree limbs from the top of Mount Withington, miscellaneous pieces of metal, and even a manhole cover that leads to nowhere. Each has a story and that is why most people indulge the presence of “yard art”: it provides visual clues of special moments.

Everything has as much a story as telling about where and how you got each of your plants.

That is one of the joys of gardening.

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I'm going to have to go around our yards and see what we still have. There's been an angel, a small house, a picture of a sun I think, and maybe something else. I don't know that I've ever considered them art. Decorations maybe. Not so necessary, definitely.

Aside from the very heavy angel statue, I don't there's any stories behind them. I'm fine with them there, I'm fine if they're not.


I'll bet there is a story with them. Angels do not usually end up in a garden without a related story.

I would not classify mine as art, either, but I do like having them there to jog my memory. That adds to the peace of being here.


Yes, the angel statue does have a story. It was a gift from a friend who is also a former employee. She is a very spiritual, I would say, and so she went with an angel. It's one of the heavier garden decorations I've ever ran across. I'm the one that has to move it anywhere. I'm not remembering what the occasion was for the gift. Maybe my wife's birthday? I don't know. :)


That's a good story! She obviously valued your friendship to get such a large, heavy gift.
There is a story with everything, even if it no more than "I found it on the street." With a bit of embellishment, it can become a yarn.