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SHARING SECRETS: Favorite Garden Art

Stephen Zolezzi makes art from found items.

Edited by Tina Ivany.

What is your favorite piece of garden art and how did you acquire it?

Linda Canada: A friend made a piece of mosaic art by gluing colored glass pieces to an old window frame. Because my lot backs onto Highway 52, I can prop it against the wire fence and see the floral scene with light flowing through the back of the piece. I've attached an image.

Linda Canada's stained glass.

Deborah Young: I found a large stained glass picture of bamboo in a second hand store. I immediately bought it without knowing where or what I would do with it. For years, it was stored under a bed, until we found a way to hang it on the side of the house facing the garden - and adjacent to real bamboo.

Barbara Crawford (Rancho Penasquitos): I found this reproduction of Kandinsky's Yellow-Red-Blue in a thrift shop, and put it facing the street between the window and the boring curtains. Although this beautiful painting is not in the garden, it adds a wonderful, cheeky element that engages everyone who stops to enjoy what used to be front lawn.

Painting in Barbara Crawford's window.

Jim Benedetti: My favorite garden art piece I have is an Arcosanti Bell that I bought while on a Cal Poly Pomona Landscape Architecture field trip in 1983.

Linda Chisari: We have a beautiful wind sculpture (verdigris copper) by Lyman Whitaker, which we purchased in Santa Fe, NM. We love the way the breezes from the ocean move the sculpture.

Linda Chisari's sculpture.

Robin Rivet (La Mesa - 91942): Our neighbor removed several large and rusty, old, white, wrought iron window bars before their house got sold, and I re-purposed them. I spray-painted them with crimson, red-violet and eggplant colors, and then re-hung them on a brick wall where they add year round color – even when the adjacent vining plants are dormant or not in flower. It’s a good use of recycled materials, and really added needed color to a north-facing and partially shady area.

Robin Rivet uses painted wrought iron window bars.

Elese Coit (Linda Vista, 92111): My daughter was given this piece (photo on right) after her paternal grandfather died, as part of a collection of sculptures done by him and his wife. Both grandparents were lifelong learners and always enrolling in classes - weaving, sculpture, etc. They made these pieces together and I guess they never thought they came out quite right, but we love seeing this one’s peaceful expression reigning over the veggie beds and remembering how it got here.

Debbie Lynn: I have a cute, sitting cherub that always makes me smile. It is about 6" tall and probably made of some kind of cement or plaster of Paris. I am not sure where I got it, but I usually shop Ross, Marshall's, T.J. Maxx and estate or garage sales

Cindy Sparks Bruecks (92107 in Point Loma): My fave is a wire chicken, which I've painted bright chartreuse. My next-door neighbor has chickens, so of course I have some roosters (ceramic or metal), but they have not aged well here at the beach. The chicken is new but I plan to repaint her as needed. I used the same color on four netting arches (made of PVC; paints easily) so that I am repeating the color around the garden. Darn bright and cheery, actually. I acquired the wire chicken at a thrift store, one of my favorite places for garden art.

Stephen Zolezzi: Most favorite pieces are the ones I make from found items. Teacups into birdhouses (see photo above), china plates and cups into flowers, horse bridles into a mobile, odd pieces of jewelry into long hangings.

Miranda Alexander: I have a beautiful colored glass birdbath with a small solar fountain in it. It brings many types of birds for a bath and a drink. I can watch them from my living room window. It sustains the bees too. I found it on Amazon.

Al Field (92106): A green ceramic frog, about 12 inches high and wide. I traded a mirrored pedestal, suitable for displaying a Boston fern, to a friend for the frog. We both are pleased with the trade nearly four years later.

Susan Starr: I collect frogs and have at least a half-dozen frog-themed art items in my garden. This one (photo at left) is my favorite. I got him at a nursery somewhere near Pasadena. Wish I remembered where!

Teresa Shanahan: The mosaics that I have made - Totems, fence hanging and full stand-up sculptures.

Sue Fouquette: I collect goats, none alive. I may have 300, from tiny in the house, to life size in the yard. My sister who lives in Virginia makes fabulous window screen wire sculptures. I thought I might tell you that one is my favorite. But Charley and I decided on the rusty windmill he bought some years ago. We can see it in the backyard from our windows. It gives us the wind direction and velocity much better than our big trees do. Climbing up its four legs is Thunbergia alata, orange clock vine. As a nature lover, you’d think I wouldn’t like the huge wind turbines in our world. But I love their simple modern look.

Vivian Blackstone: I decided to design my garden using a Japanese theme. My Japanese theme started about 35 years ago with a bamboo fence about 25' long. I then designed an entrance with a Japanese tiled roof. Under the tile roof, which is about 25’ long, are two swinging bamboo gate doors about 3' wide. I stylized the fir tree that was here, in a Japanese way, and bought an original Japanese stone lantern sculpture.

Later I added a small water feature called a Shishi-odoshi and hooked it up to water, but I only put it on when guests are coming. I continued the Japanese theme through the garden with a Koi pond, fish and a 5’ bridge in the back. I added another stone water feature and another Shishi-odoshi in back. I have a wonderful 360 degree panoramic view in the back, which really gives an endless panoramic quality to the garden design.

At the same time, 35 years ago, I purchased four bonsai black pine, which are amazingly elegant now, pruned to perfection. There are also several other bonsai plants such as a wisteria, in bloom right now in April, and a Japanese geranium. I also planted three green maple trees and one red maple that are blooming at this time of year around the pond area.

Around all this oriental feeling are many fruit trees and colorful, easy to care for plants such as statice, fuchsia, geraniums.

I live in Rancho Bernardo, and it takes a lot of work to keep the weeds down, but it is worth all the effort.

Catherine Tylka: My beautiful niece Lauren is helping me spread mulch.

She’s my artwork!

Karen Kees: When backpacking in the high Sierra, we came across an area of glacially polished granite. Sadly, it had been blasted for a new trail. The devastation of such a gorgeous natural wonder broke our hearts. But, I found a lovely, smooth, 35 lb. piece of the polished stone that I could carry in my backpack. It killed my knees, but, I toted it a number of miles down to our car. Now it has a place of honor in my garden.

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