Whimsy in the garden is wonderful

If you are a determined and serious gardener with little tolerance for the frivolous, then please read no further. Turn the page, and take in the stock market prices or the baseball scores, but please do not read this column and then scold me for my flippant attitude.

I believe there is a place in the garden for whimsy. Several places, in fact.

To prove this, I have added a new garden resident this summer. George is constructed from a small pair of jeans, patent leather shoes and a plaid flannel shirt. Stuffed with newspaper, he is seated on a chair in the vegetable garden, looking out at the neighborhood from his upper part, which is made of a potted aloe vera.

Another new addition peers from the flowers under the butterfly bush. It is a kind of gazing ball made from my late husband’s bowling ball covered with blue shiny stones and little mirrors. That ball won a number of trophies and ribbons and now has its place in the sun. This idea came from my friend, Ruth, who made one for her garden.

Last year’s whimsy was the decoration of a lilac bush with a collection of blue bottles. The shrub was not happy with the decorations, and so far this year, the blue bottles have remained in the garage. But now, I have begun to install them on a fence on the side of the house that is there to keep the perennial Maximilian sunflower within bounds.

That blue and yellow combination will be hard to resist. That plant grows to about 8 feet high and just as wide, larger every year, and is quite an attention-getter, with hundreds of flowers.

I have several containers around the garden, many of them repurposed watering cans, bird baths, a coal scuttle, and so on. I have given up on hanging baskets. They are too demanding where watering is concerned, and are messy to care for. They look beautiful hanging in the garden center in early summer, but most of them are for sale during their peak flowering time and have nowhere to go but downhill.

While this column was still in my head and not yet committed to the keyboard I received a forwarded email with some great ideas for recycling objects into garden “art.”

One was a whole row of people like George (shown at left), only this time a row of adult-sized jeans were stuffed and lined up along a balcony, complete with boots and ornamental grass heads.

There also was a row of soup ladles hanging in a row on a weathered board, with a tiny succulent growing in each.

A row of old, galvanized buckets and watering cans lined a stairway, and a set of antique silver spoons were given new life as plant markers.

I really enjoy playing with unexpected things in the garden, and despite the disapproval of some of my friends, I plan to continue to do my part to lighten up the science of horticulture.

Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at