For yard art inspiration, check out your neighbors


Imagine having a landscape begging for yard art and nothing wonderful to give it. • Great problem, right? • It's the challenge facing Jennifer Martinez, a 20-something newlywed working to make her and husband Josh's first house a home. She's a woman with a huge creative streak — a novelist, actor, blogger. But this whole gardening thing? She's working on it. • I knew just where to find inspiration for Jennifer — and the rest of us. These artsy and fun-loving Tampa Bay gardeners shared their favorite masterpieces, along with great tips.

Old Buick's grill helps rev up koi pond

Maryhelen Zopfi of Lutz had a vision of water streaming through the front grill of a cool old car and into her swimming pool-turned-koi pond.

"I did it," she emailed earlier this month. "Went to the junkyard and found the front end of this Buick. It's up and running. We love it."

She paid $75 for the '95 Buick Century grill. Her exceptionally handy husband, Simon, a metal fabricator, installed it.

"I dream ideas," Maryhelen says. "When they start coming out of my mouth as words, Simon gets nervous."

Tip: Dream big; marry well.

Don't be shy about having some fun

At Tampa Heights Community Garden, coordinator Kitty Wallace encourages gardeners to let their fun flags fly.

Sharing your sense of humor is a way of sharing yourself, which helps build a sense of community, Kitty says.

"This sign cracks me up," she says. "Life's short — have fun!"

Tip: What she said!

Visit the community garden, 605 E Frances Ave., Tampa, 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday for a free Earth Day Celebration, including music, vendors, games and kids' crafts.

Gnome is guardian of her garden

Nicholas the Gnome rules Susan Gillespie's colorful back yard in Riverview.

"According to lore, gnomes bring color and life to a garden and oversee the fairy population," Susan says.

She bought Nick at Green Boutique, 1032 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico.

"He weighs a ton. My sister Cindi and I were quite the comical pair trying to get him to the back yard!"

She hand-tiled the pedestal on which Nicholas stands — which says a little something about who rules!

Tip: Rally the fairies with a strong gnome.

Busch Gardens' eye-catching sundial

You shouldn't need a watch to tell the time on the Dark Continent. And you don't. Just check the living sundial.

"Our goal is to put our creative hooks into our guests and get them to notice plants and appreciate the plants that surround them," says Joe Parr, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's director of horticulture. "I am very happy to see guests every day happily snapping family photos in front of our landscape displays."

Want to copy his sundial? Joe's instructions:

• Choose a sunny, level spot and install a pole to mark the center of your dial.

•With a string and stakes, mark each "ray" on the hour as the sun travels across the sky.

•Choose a compact, upright, vertical-growing shrub for the gnomon, the central feature that casts the shadow and replaces the pole.

•Use full, compact plants that can take regular shearing for the rays — the lines that mark the hours. End each ray with a conically sheared plant.

•Fill the spaces between the rays with annual bedding plants, using contrasting colors in each section.

Tip: Between roller coasters and shows, check out Busch Gardens' inventive plant displays.

No need for rain: These daisies bloom perpetually

Even during the hottest, driest months — coming in May! — Bill Carr's daisies never droop.

They're made by Amy and Joe Hines of Pensacola ( from recycled automobile parts.

"I was really impressed with their work, which is on display at Leu Gardens among other places," says Bill, who lives in Plant City. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so it goes with yard art!"

Tip: Find works you love in public gardens.

Helping those trees come to life

About 15 years ago, Seminole Heights gardener and artist Bean Spence started making "pot heads" — hollowed masks into which a plant container can be inserted.

"Every one's different. This one's made from a cypress knee," he says.

They're covered in Rust-Oleum and Bean says they've lasted through freezes, hurricanes, sun and rain.

Find them at Manny's on the Bay nursery, 600 W Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, or find Bean on Facebook at Bean Spence art.

Tip: Look to local artists for unique stuff.

Love yard art? Find more great submissions at, and send your own to [email protected] On Facebook, find Penny at Diggin Florida Dirt; follow @DigginPenny on Twitter.

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