Lawn Ornaments

Populate your lawn with little friends

Lawn ornaments are, to some people, extremely ugly and a sign of bad taste. To others, however, they are magical guardians of the garden. They lend not only a charming spirit to the outdoor sanctuary, but some believe they also protect your plants from elements and predators. They're a great example of the variety of garden decor.

Part of the charm of a beautiful garden is the shimmer and sparkle of different textures and surfaces among the colorful plants. It's pleasing to see a shy fawn peeping up at you from beneath the roses or a garden gnome cheerfully standing guard under a blue spruce tree. Many garden ornaments have legends attached to them that make their sojourn in your yard all the more magical.

If you're in agreement with the many who love lawn ornaments, then you've got a lot of new adoptees to choose from. You'll never lack for company!

Bird Baths

If you enjoy a nice cool dip in the pool on a summer's day, you can imagine how much a hot little bird will love a bird bath. A bird bath is essentially a dish of water on a pedestal that's in easy reach of birds and set up in the open, away from predators. It's the perfect lawn ornament for a bird watcher. They come in all styles and sizes for differently-sized birds. Bird baths are normally constructed of concrete, with woodland reliefs on the pedestal and bowl. However, you can attract birds to your garden by putting a pie plate under a slowly dripping faucet. You can even include a bird bath as part of any fountains.

Make sure you keep your bird bath clean so that your little visitors won't get sick from bathing and drinking in dirty water. Plus, stagnant water attracts mosquitoes that may carry West Nile Virus, so changing the water will keep you and your family safe, too.

Statuary

This category covers everything from animals to religious sculptures to children playing games. Whatever your taste, there's a statue to suit it. The most famous garden statues are probably the garden gnomes, but many people enjoy woodland animals or cranes. You can get garden statuary in many different materials, including concrete, stone and terra cotta.

Lawn Jockeys

These little guys have been the subject of a lot of controversy, since a lawn jockey was traditionally depicted on diminutive statues as a black groomsman wearing slave clothes. He is often depicted holding a lantern or having a hitching ring in his hand. The figures were frequently painted with over-exaggerated African features and with comical expressions to accentuate the fact that they were supposed to be statues of slaves. Sometimes people who wished to make a racist statement would put them on their lawns.

However, these days you can find lawn jockeys painted completely black or white, or as white jockeys with red clothing, to avoid any racist innuendoes. Now, people habitually think of the statues not as a statement against African-Americans, but as a memorial to Jocko Graves, who was a young groomsman to George Washington. As legend has it, Jocko was so dedicated to Washington that he froze to death holding the general's horse when Washington went to battle one cold night. Jocko had begged to go with the army, but Washington refused, saying that Jocko was too young. Washington was very moved by the little African-American boy's dedication and ordered a statue to be made of him to commemorate his loyalty. This, according to the story, was the first groomsman statue, or "Jocko" (jockey).

There are other stories that suggest that the lawn jockey was used as a marker for escaped slaves traveling the Underground Railway. The legend states that a slave would know whether or not it was safe to go on by the color of the ribbon tied on the jockey's arm. A green ribbon meant it was safe; a red ribbon meant "hide or turn back". This, like the Jocko legend, has never been proven, but it still makes for an interesting story to tell your neighbors about the little groomsman on your front lawn.

Plastic Flamingos

Flamingos are considered the epitome of garden ornament kitsch - there was a time that nearly everyone had one of these pink or white birds on the lawn. They have become so much a statement of pop culture that lawn greeting industries and people wishing to play jokes on their friends will often cover the lawn of their "victim" with scores of pink flamingos. They certainly add a bit of fun to your yard and go well with any tropical flowers you might have. Many people like to place flamingos near bird baths and ponds.

Don Featherstone was the creator of the pink flamingo, and collectors can check if their flamingo is authentic by looking for Featherstone's signature under the bird's tail. Featherstone flamingos have yellow beaks with black tips and are always sold in pairs. Featherstone was awarded the 1996 Nobel Art Prize for his creation, which he based off National Geographic pictures of flamingos.

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