Beyond Bunnies – Phil Hathcock is Natural Stone Sculputres

How's this for a Stylish Shed

How's this for a Stylish Shed?


Oh sure, he has other designers working for him in his Japanese landscape design firm, but when it comes to art, it’s all Phil.

My first connection with Phil Hathcock came while I was admiring the landscape design he did for Tommy and Linda Bunn (see my Metro story under “In Print.”)    Several years ago, Tommy and Linda opened their garden for me for the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour, also benefiting the JC Raulston arboretum.  Then that following year, Phil donated a piece of his sculpture to the Gala in the Garden, an annual spring fund raising event for the JCRA.  It was a stone stacked on top of  another stone.   I bid on it –  so did number 98.  To this day, I don’t know number 98  and I don’t want to know…it was a bitter battle.  I won.  I brought the rocks home and set them in the garden where they remain to this day.  At the time, it was an unnamed work of art. My number one daughter (8 at the time), Lara Rose, walked up and said, “Cool, a rock standing on one foot.”  And so it was named.  I looks big in the photo, but it is only about 24 inches tall.hathcockcaryyoest-2

My Philbrook children are a cleaver lot, but to test if this wasn’t beginners luck, when I brought home my next sculpture, I asked Lara Rose to name it.  The pressure was on.


In no time she says, “Oh, that’s easy, Guardian of the Gnomes.”  Perfect.  That’s my clever girl!  Guardian of the Gnomes sits in Helen Haven’s Herb garden.

We in the south, love southerners.  I believe, everyone loves southerns and why not?  With a pace and accent one can only hope to achieve, we can also be misunderstood.  Often times, our pace and accent can be viewed as if we have no sense at all.  I don’t want to give away all our  secrets, but, well, we do have all our senses and then some.  And many of us find it grand to exaggerate it some when non-southerns are around.  Oh yes, and see how nice we southerns are…I called those not from here non-southerns rather than northerners.  

We like to use words like ain’t and y’all or both by saying things like, “Y’all ain’t form around here, are ya?” when they try to grow lilacs.

Phil is either a southern through and through, or he’s doing a great imitation.   When he talks, his southern draw is enchanting – musical, actually.  Always saying a kind word and making sure if he doesn’t like something, he wont hurt your feelings.  When I first asked Phil to design a butterfly  for my butterfly garden, he agreed to do it and said in the sweetest way, “Well, Helen, I’ll flip some rock around and see what I find.”  

Two months later, I hear from a friend that saw “my” butterfly and that it was big.  “How big”, I ask.  “Really big”, she says.  I didn’t know what to do, I don’t have room for a really big butterfly, I was counting on a little one.”  Art cannot be stifled. 

The butterfly, Helena

The butterfly, Helena

When I finally made it by to see for myself, I was shocked – my butterfly was really big and bigger still sitting on a 20 foot post.  Phil takes one look at my expression and says, “Well Helen, I believe I have as much money in bolts as you were probably wanting to pay.”  Indeed.  As a consolation prize, he named the butterfly Helena, after me.  As it happens, Phil has another butterfly in the making that he has also named Helena.  Don’t even ask if I’m tickled, I am.  With regards to the new Helena butterfly,  if I had the where-with-all and place to put it, it would be mine.  This man can flip stone and make anything.  Oh, Helena (one) is now at the home and important garden of Eliza Kraft Olander.  I think the photo below better represents Helena (one)…Here’s Phil pushing Helena around.hathcockcaryyoest-31

 Phil’s art depicts nature such as whales, butterflies, dolphins, and more.  He also does useful items like tables and birdbaths.  Helen’s Haven has 2 of Phil’s birdbaths.

Here's no. 2 and 3 at one of Phil's child-sized tables

Here's no. 2 and 3 at one of Phil's child-sized tables

This is the birdbath I got for KK

This is the birdbath I got for KK

 Some of my favorite pieces of Phil’work is when he stacks stone. 





Phil’s designs are one-of-a-kind art pieces made out of natural stone.   If you ever make it to Cary, NC,  look him up.  I’m sure he would happy to find some time to show you around. Natural Stone Sculputures


  1. My goodness I’ve never seen rocks and stones look so good. I like your butterfly and am glad you are getting a little one. It sure is clever looking though.

    You are correct about our southern accents making folks believe we might be a bit touched in the head. They soon learn better but I’m with you, I love my roots.

  2. I’m with you FGG, I do love being a southern roots.

  3. tina said

    Pretty cool. Love the child’s table. I had a question. Is that some type of euphorbia behind the rocks with the pulmonaria and holly fern in the third picture to the last? If so, what cultivar. This is my favorite picture and the plants all looks so good, even the picket fence looks good.

  4. Hey Tina,

    I don’t know; it was a garden I scouted for Better Homes and Gardens. I will ask the amazing Tim Alderton to answer…Tim?

  5. Tim Alderton said

    No, the plant behind the rock is not a Euphorbia, but that was a good guess. It appears to be a Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’.

  6. tina said

    Thank you! I have tried the daphnes and had no luck:(

  7. Forgive me for not remembering, but what zone are you in? For me, Daphne fragrans just seem to up and die on me and clients for no apparent reasons…or is there – Tim?
    Helen Yoest

  8. Tim Alderton said

    Daphne odora and most others, shun extra moister. They need very well drained soil to do well, hence the reason that they often do well in dry shady areas. I have had people visiting the arboretum tell me that despite watering their plant it just wilted and died. That is what they did wrong. Don’t water them unless the soil is parched and they are showing signs of water stress. They do well with neglect. You ask about zones; Daphne x burkwoodii is zone 5 hardy, while D. odora is zone 7. Hope this is of some help.

  9. Thanks Tim, I thought it was more complicated thatn that such as a virus.

  10. Tim Alderton said

    Actually I think it is a fungus that attacks the stresses plant when it is too wet.

  11. Yes, Tim this makes sense…thanks, H.

  12. Sunny said

    Nice inspiering post.

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