More gardening from Felder

When last we left you in the gardening world according to Felder, we were going to explore some of the wacky ways Felder decorates his own garden down in Jackson, Miss.

If you missed last week’s column, it was devoted to the garden euphemisms of Felder Rushing, an eighth-generation Southern gardener and a long-time acquaintance of mine from our work with the Garden Writers Association. Felder believes in simplicity when one gardens, as evidenced by his instructions on how to plant something: A. Dig hole. B. Insert plant. “Green side up,” he reminds, lest that point pass you by.

Felder’s own garden is a tribute to his wacky and unusual way of thinking. In the spirit of Feng shui, Felder tries to balance the sights and sounds of his garden.

But while one really nice wind chime and a waterfall might be enough to fill the air with calm, Felder has a problem with limiting himself to just one or two wind spinners – things that move in the wind.

The result is Felder’s “folk art” whirligigs. Eschewing cheesy, shiny flea market kinds, Felder goes for the one-of-a-kind, made-from-scraps stuff. With or without propellers.

Action figures like sawing men and woodpeckers catch his eye.

Every spring breeze that comes along really sets his garden in motion.

As you can see, Felder likes to have fun, so he displays some wild pieces in his garden. His favorite is a plastic pink flamingo he named, “The Empress.”

Decorated with costume jewelry including gaudy necklaces and dangling earrings, the bird is louder than a peacock in full strut.

As a sidebar, the flamingo is signed by Donald Featherstone, the Massachusetts art school graduate, who back in 1957 patented the very first plastic flamingo.

Felder doesn’t care what people think of his garden. “It doesn’t matter what you say or do,” he says, “because neighbors are going to talk about you anyway.”

Felder stacks old used tires to make a year-round Christmas tree in the middle of his oh-so-cluttered cottage garden.

In fact, Felder has gone on many a TV garden show to demonstrate how to make planters out of used tires.

He also popularized the “bottle tree,” which is made by sliding large, colorful bottles (think cobalt blue milk of magnesia, etc) over the bare branches of a small dead tree or large limb for a jewel-like effect.

Felder even had to buy some used, colorful bottles over e-Bay because some of his favorite bottles from his bottle tree had fallen and broken.

Outdoor art perks up any garden. Whether it’s a beautiful bronze sculpture, a simple gazing globe, a colorful birdhouse or a flamboyantly decorated pink plastic flamingo, the choice is yours.

Each individual views art differently. If you like something, and it makes you happy, then display it. As Felder reminds, “The neighbors are going to talk about you anyway.”

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