The allure of lawn ornaments

Whether quaint, kitschy or just plain tacky, yard art is something I just can’t resist

“Watch for pink flamingos!” will soon be my advice to visitors.

To celebrate the arrival of spring, I set out a pair of the shocking-pink plastic birds to “graze” in my front yard. The flamingos also serve to identify my house, which looks like all the others in my subdivision.

Another reason for the flamingos is my unexplainable fondness for lawn ornaments.

Come summer, a lacy white fairy graces my small flowerbed of zinnias and snapdragons. A plaque beside her reads: “Sunshine fades, Stars appear, Garden fairies gather here.” And couple of tiny garden gnomes will peek out of the hanging red geranium baskets flanking my garage door.

When friends discovered I had this odd proclivity, gifts began appearing. Flamingos came in the form of a plush Beanie Baby, butter dish, miniature cocktail-snack spears — even a handbag. And they keep coming!

To date, I’ve received a second fairy (ivory, with broad embracing wings). Also, two cheerful, rosy-cheek, Disney gnomes and one decorative pillow of a frowning gnome, hand-hooked in wool.

Dear friends, I love them all, but no more … please no more!

But, I digress. My taste in yard décor is decidedly eclectic.

The flamingos are Post War 1957. Artist Don Featherstone created them as a work assignment for Union Products, a maker of plastic lawn ornaments in Leominster, Mass.

Fairies have appeared in English, Scottish and Irish literature for generations as mythical creatures who come out after dark and are thought to make flowers grow.

Gnomes originated in Germany in the 1700s. Folklore says they’re benevolent visitors who watch over gardens at night.

Now, I’ve never taken to the Garden Gazing Globe: Too glitzy. However, I’ve long coveted another item. I don’t exactly know its history, but I’m guessing it dates back to the 1920s.

I used to see these things displayed for sale at Ma and Pa roadside craft shops while driving Up North on Highway 61, alongside an assortment of homemade lawn furniture.

They’re hard to find today. I’ve been told one may occasionally show up at an antique store, and some were spotted at the last annual Woodbury Lion’s Club garage sale.

The reason for their absence in my collection (like the flamingos, they usually come in pairs) is a threat my husband Earl made some years ago. Earl told me that if I were ever to bring a pair home and install them in our yard, he would use them for target practice!

I refer to the Yard Butt!

Don’t know what a Yard Butt is? Hard to describe. I suggest you try Google. Or, imagine the posterior of a clothed person bent over a garden, carved in wood, the clothing painted in bright colors.

Anyone know where I can buy a pair? … No! … Just kidding! Just kidding!

Carol Hall lives in Woodbury. She’s a longtime freelance writer, a University of Minnesota graduate and a former Northwest Airlines stewardess. Send comments and questions to [email protected].