I dig old stuff.

Garden Ornaments: An Unhealthy Obsession Pt 1

A very fine example of a planter donkey

A 60s Planter Swan in full bloom

A 60s Planter Swan in full bloom

Garden ornaments. How many do you have? If your answer is “More than one”, you’re my kind of person. You see, ever since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated by concrete  toadstools, swans, frogs, donkeys, kangaroos and everything else that lends itself to being cast in cement and chucked on the lawn. I’m not really sure why, but I figure it might have something to do with the fact we never had anything whacky in our garden…. unless you count the fish pond; But it really wasn’t that exciting. Most of the time, the fish got eaten by birds – a situation that could have been avoided if we’d bothered to buy a garden gnome to keep an eye on things.

I grew up in Tasmania, which is the garden ornament capital of Australia. To be honest, I just made that up, but back in the day there seemed to be a hell of a lot them around. I have fond memories of going out on family drives each Sunday and spying all sorts of delights along the way. If we took the Brooker Highway, I would crane my neck just to get a glimpse of the donkey that was perched outside one of the clinker brick houses near the Hobart showgrounds. It always had colourful flowers growing in it.

A very fine example of a planter donkey

A very fine example of a planter donkey

Sometimes as a special treat, we’d travel north on the old road from Claremont to Bridgewater. Houses along this route were wild. One place had a giant concrete aboriginal standing on one leg, holding a spear; Very un-PC. Another had a fence made out of chains (painted white),a pebble lawn and – this is my favourite part – two tyre swans. Heaven!

Many years later, I’m still nuts for this junk. Infact my obsession was revived recently when I came across something I’d never seen before: a planter Pelican. I’d always been in love with swans, but a PLANTER PELICAN!

Australia's answer to the Pink Flamingo: the Tyre Swan

Australia’s answer to the Pink Flamingo: the Tyre Swan

My stars! As I entered the shop, I knew I was going to buy it. It didn’t matter what the price tag was; I needed it in my life….to add to the unicorn, the snail, the frogs, the turtle, the swan….

My new planter pelican sitting with his mate, the concrete unicorn

My new planter pelican sitting with his mate, the concrete unicorn.

Yep.  I now have that garden I dreamt of as a kid. Its incredibly stupid and the neighbours think I’m mad, but let me tell you, there is nothing better than pulling into the driveway after a hard day at work to see a big concrete pelican sitting proudly on your porch with flowers and foliage poking out of its back.

The silliest things in life are often the best.


11 Responses to “Garden Ornaments: An Unhealthy Obsession Pt 1”

  1. Anna GoGo

    I wholeheartedly agree with you Emma, and your concrete pelican and unicorn are magnificent! I am still searching for the elusive Tyre Swan, and Concrete Mexican Sombrero.

    I know there’s a house in Epping that has not one but two concrete kangaroos! If they weren’t bolted down I’d consider nicking them.

    My tastes in concrete garden ornaments also trend also towards the ethnic, I have a serious obsession with Italianate lions, and Easter European style eagles, particularly when cast in concrete and assigned sentry points on suburban driveways…

  2. Heather

    We had for years frogs and turtles around our fishpond, some very old gnomes, fairies, dragons and now, Barack Obama (He doesn’t live in the garden, yet)

  3. Alysha Main

    Congrats on the new blog! When I was 17 I had a wild night with friends on psychedelics, ‘kidnapping’ lawn ornaments from neighbourhood homes and ‘re-homing’ most of them on the golf course. We got so many that we put the rest in my mom’s living room… she didn’t really know what to say when she woke up the next day!

    I love the tire swans! Never saw any of those when I was in Australia

  4. Julie

    We have the Mexican sombrero, which we rescued from my mother-in-law’s holiday house!

    It doesn’t have any plants in it, because I want to repaint it before that happens. Do you think I’ve ever found the time to do that? No. Never. So it just sits empty, but it’s still awesome!

  5. Bonnie

    Love your concrete pot planters! I have a nice little collection of 4 concrete swans that i love soooooo much!!
    Wanting to know about that gorgeous concrete pelican of yours. How much did you purchase it for?
    I found a concrete pelican at a vintage market for a whopping $465!!! Couldn’t pay that much even though my heart melted at first sight.

  6. debs

    Hi! This article made me smile. That swan is gorgeous and if it really is from the 60s then they made things much more beautiful back then. I too love unique lawn statues & planters…..one of my favorites are the Wishing Wells where the bucket is full of flowers.

    One question: Can you share your tips on how to plant inside of a cement ornament? Mine don’t have drain holes and my flowers never grow well in cement planters, even with gravel added in the bottom. Your swan’s flowers look so healthy! What am I doing wrong that the flowers don’t grow and sometimes die in my cement lawn ornaments?

    Thank you for any advice. Your website is charming.


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