Archive for Beyond Bunnies – Garden Art

Beyond Bunnies – Sculpture in the Garden at the North Carolina Botanical Gardens, Chapel Hill

In my world of beyond bunnies, art in the garden that is better than a concrete bunny, the Sculpture in the Garden 21st annual garden art show at the NC Botanical Garden spoke to me – loudly!

If I was willing to part with $3,200, she would be mine.

Lady in Yellow by Tinka Jordy

Lady in Yellow by Tinka Jordy

Here is what the artist, Tinka Jordy from Hillsborough, NC says about her work.  “I am interested in reflecting the human condition in relationship with other life, in all its fragility yet, incredible perseverance.

The surface of the sculpture is full of cracks, fissures and imperfections that express the earth, the passing of time, our mortality, endurance, and the stresses of life, both physical and emotional.  I choose to work in clay as it [is] the one material, that if I listen closely, communicates these sentiments so beautifully.”

2009 GWA (18)

She is about my height and size and our crackling is about the same…perhaps, that is what has drawn me in.  Not sure the reason, other than her pure beauty…I have just the place for you in my garden.

Helen Yoest
Gardening With Confidence

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Gardening With Confidence – Add a Bottle Tree

Bottle Tree at Helen's Haven

Bottle Tree at Helen's Haven

Ever notice how some gardeners just seem to garden with ease, with not a care in the world?  Their garden grows well – better than yours, in fact,  despite all your efforts.  One question.  Do you have a bottle tree?

Bottle trees are the ultimate accent to gardening with confidence.   Think about it, a bottle tree allows you to garden without fear of haints, evil spirits, and other things that go bump in the night.  It’s bad enough we have to garden with deer, rabbits, copperheads, voles, moles, skeeters and such.  I can bare that.  But haints?  Ain’t no way!

From Peggy Titus garden open for Raleigh Garden Conservancy Open Days tour 2008

From Peggy Titus garden open for Raleigh Garden Conservancy Open Days tour 2008

Bottle trees are rich in southern history.  The idea of bottle trees was introduced to the south from African Congo slaves.   Here, bottle trees were used to protect homes from evil spirits whereby trapping spirits inside the bottle, corking ’em in, and tossing into the river where they could do no harm.

Found on a drive by in Greensboro, NC
Found on a drive by in Greensboro, NC

This African tradition lives on in the south.  Whenever I see a bottle tree, I pause to reflect on the good spirits who started them.

If you want to improve your gardening, garden with confidence, get a bottle tree.  If for no other reason than to add color, conversation, and control  in the garden.

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Beyond Bunnies: Hypertufa troughs – the perfect planter. Colorful concrete leaves – the perfect accent.

Hypertufa Troughs

Hypertufa Troughs – An earthy and natural container that goes with everything.

Providing the perfect container for many plants, but particularly conifers and sedums, hypertufa troughs are fun and easy to make while also providing many years of good looking service.

Modeled after stone troughs that were once used to hold water and feed for live stock in England and the Orient – then re-purposed into planters. But when there weren’t enough to go around or as they became too pricey, people began to make their own. A worthy container in their own right, hypertufa troughs should not be considered a poor substitute to the real thing – they are the perfect planter.

From garden designer Suzanne Edney's garden

From garden designer Suzanne Edney's garden

Colorful Concrete Leaves – Ever notice how a leaf goes with everything?  Make it colorful and it becomes a garden accent with just the right amount of whimsy.

Raleigh is fortunate in that we have Beth Jimenez and Amelia of  Lane of Lasting Impressions Concrete Sculptures offering Hypertufa and Concrete leaf workshops this summer!!

LaneLeavesRaleighYoest (19)

Hypertufa Workshops: Tuesday, July 21 and Saturday, July 25,  9AM – 12PM

Registration: Two weeks prior to class date.  Cost: $45

Concrete leaf Workshops: Tuesday, June 16 and Saturday, June 20, 9AM – 12PM

Registration:  Two weeks prior to class date

Cost: $45 for concrete leaf; $50 for concrete leaf garden stake

The class gives you detailed and attentive instructions.  Sign up to make your own hypertufa, leaf sculpture or garden stake. For your leaf,  Beth and Amelia will also give you tips for painting the sculpture once it has set up and cured.  All materials will be provided.  If you want a particular leaf, please bring it with you – yes, that’s right, these concrete leaves are cast with real leaves.

Have questions?  Please email Amelia Lane at or call 919-787-6228.

To register for a workshop, please make your check payable to Lasting Impressions and send to 4904 Hermitage Dr.,
Raleigh, NC 27612

Lasting Impressions will also be at the Larkspur Party June 6/7, 2009

This sounds like fun, hope to see you there.

Copy and Photos by Helen Yoest

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In Print – Guest Blogger at Shawna Coronado’s Blog Garden Variety


One of the many things I like about blogging is meeting like minded gardeners.

I met Shawna at Twitter, a social media group.  She is smart, funny and gorgeous, but I guess you tell that from her photo.  Shawna’s blog The Casual Gardener is a great read.  Be sure to check it out…and not just because I’m her guest blogger – ha!

Shawna Lee Coronado is an author, Chicago area syndicated newspaper columnist, energetic speaker, and environmental and health correspondent. Her book Gardening Nude is focused on health improvement by exposure to nature, greening, and community building. Shawna’s prime exposure to nature is through gardening which is what inspired Shawna’s development of her health philosophy. The “Get Your Green On Healthy Philosophy” is the key component in her own dramatic health improvement and green lifestyle change.  casual-gardener-gardeningcvrfrnt

Being very active in local community is critical to Shawna’s inspirational message. She is heavily involved with many community greening and improvement organizations and is currently on the Board of directors for Fermilab National Accelerator’s Natural Areas. She works closely with the local America In Bloom organization and has participated in many community organizations such as environmental advisory commissions, conservation groups, parks and forestry associations, and educational institutions.

Shawna’s experience in business development, communication, sales management, and online marketing has helped her spread the positive health and greening message. Shawna wants to inspire positive change for the world’s physical and emotional health!

Focused on nature, Shawna’s landscape design, horticulture, and gardening expertise motivates her to be outdoors experiencing a healthier lifestyle. This experience has significantly improved her health and emotional well-being and has contributed to her environmental awareness and expertise.

Shawna lives and works in a suburb of Chicago. You can find Shawna staying healthy by working regularly in her garden with the family dog and mascot, Harry the Pug.

My readers know, I more than just about gardening and writing about gardening.  I think it is so important to give back to our gardening community.  Shawna is the the kind of example I point to when asked, “What can I do.” Volunteer at your local botanic garden or arboretum. It’s rewarding, you’ll see.

Thanks you Shawna for all you do!

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Beyond Bunnies: Accenting your garden with art, plus a garden accent making how-to


Metal sculptor, Joel Haas, “Butterfly”, in an early spring butterfly garden

When I look out at my 60-foot long perennial border, I see all the components that make up the kaleidoscope of color waiting to attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. These winged gifts are attracted to the colors they see. Many studies support butterflies are attracted to the color purple, hummingbirds to red and bees to yellow. Once in the garden, the plants will keep them there. But like all perennial beds, the plants will wax and wane through their cycle of growth and production. By adding accents to the garden, this keeps the color constant and thus, keeping the birds and bees interested in coming to the garden.

That said, garden accents are not limited to attracting wildlife to the garden. They are at home in any garden including formal, casual, cottage, rustic, quirky, contemporary and electric!

This is where the fun begins. Garden centers, garden shops, garden fairs and flea markets are all great resources for garden accents and art. Here you will find artists who make new stuff out of old, such as birdhouses from reclaimed items; and old stuff into new, such as a birdbath carved from a piece of stone. And, of course, there is a plethora of stuff with personality to match your own. There are whirligigs, stepping-stones, bird feeders, baths, and houses. There are animals, bugs and gnomes, There are gates, benches, and gazebos. And what garden would be complete without a sign displaying a favorite saying. My personal favorite is from Yogi Berra, “When you come to a fork in the road…take it.”

Go to Wing Haven Garden & Bird Sanctuary in Charlotte, NC and read carved in marble lying in a garden path:

Life, believe, is not a dream

So dark as sages say:

Oft a little morning rain

Foretells a pleasant day

~Charlotte Bronte~

Other favorite signs are “Peace and Grace be upon this Place” or the most simple, “Welcome to my Garden.” I would be remiss in not mentioning the splattering of spiritual figures. St. Francis is at home in my garden – St. Francis is the quintessential garden accent!

When placing accents in your garden, remember the garden accent is just that – an accent. Ultimately, the whole garden is the work of art. The garden accent serves as a small part of the bigger picture. There is art that serves the role of the focal point, but in my bunny and beyond bunny world, we are only whispering our attention. Tuck the accent in among the flowers and shrubs. The garden art speaks best when whispering in the shadows of the foliage and flowers.

Feeling crafty? Armed with a little know-how and you will be off to the flea market making your own garden art. How about a little teapot for your formal rose garden? Roses and tea are a nice combination, I think. Of course, there are butterflies for your butterfly garden, candles to light paths and even a once dust-collecting knick-knack can have a new life in the garden. With a little imagination, found objects can be re-purposed into garden art.

Making Garden Art from 5 Easy Pieces


  1. Found object from flea market or cupboard – examples shown
  2. Half inch or 3/4 copper tubing from the plumbing section of a hardware store.  This is where the investment is.  However, they are reusable and copper is “at home” in the garden.
  3. Respective half inch or 3/4 inch copper tubing cap
  4. Tubing cutter
  5. Weather resistant adhesive.

Instructions for making garden accents from found objects

This example uses a $4 candle from a mass marketer.


  1. Ensure the accent is clean and dry with all tags removed.
  2. With the accent up side down and on a level surface, apply a heavy dollop of weather resistant adhesive such as “Heavy Duty Welder Adhesive” to the bottom of the object and set copper cap into the adhesive; let dry for at least 24 hours.
  3. Cut copper tubing with a tubing cutter to the desired length. I buy 10 foot sections and get several stakes from each.
  4. Insert copper tubing into the cap.
  5. Place in the garden.


With multiple caps, accents can be traded out as desired – candles at night, flower vase during the day.

For better stabilization, it may be advisable to hammer a section of rebar into the ground and then place the copper tubing over it.



50 cent find from the flea market

50 cent find from the flea market

This coffee pot accents an area in my summer garden when I like to have my morning coffee

This coffee pot accents an area in my summer garden when I like to have my morning coffee

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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

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Beyond Bunnies – Accenting your gaden with art – Thomas Sayre Earthcastings – the Mother of all Garden Art

When I look back on my life, I will count meeting and being moved by Thomas Sayre and his garden art as a defining moment.  

Witnessing his art resulted in some of the pinches I did along the way wonderng how I got so lucky.  But more importantly, how was it that I was in the right place at the right time to see it installed?  Admiring his work is one thing, seeing it all come together is another.   

When talking with Thomas about his art, his passion cannot be denied.  Thomas is quiet, reserved and unassuming, yet his art speaks in high volume,  is bold and adventuresome. 

On Friday, December 5, 2008 I witnessed the lifting of Thomas’ latest earthcasting.  The final photos have not been taken.  The lift was not finished due to some further engineering considerations with regards to support. 

The lifting was an all day event and fortunate for me, not my first.  I knew what to expect having witnessed the prototype of Duets installed in Oxford 2 years earlier.

Enjoy the photo journey below starting with the model of the vision that led to this art being placed in a field, down a country road in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Model - nam?

The Model - name?


Digging out the frist tower

Digging out the first tower


The release of the first tower
The first tower being set in place

The first tower being set in place


The second tower lifted.  Not the first tower in the background.

The second tower lifted. Note the first tower in the background.


While tower one was on the ground, this photo was taken

While tower one was on the ground, this photo was taken


I’ll post the final installation in a couple of weeks after all the details have been worked out to set this art in place.

Below are some other examples of Thomas Sayre’s work.

The Tiller at Architectural Trees in Bahama, NC

The Tiller at Architectural Trees in Bahama, NC

The River Reels at the Finkles in Oxford, NC

The River Reels at the Finkle's in Oxford, NC

To learn more about Thomas Sayre visit

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