Florida-friendly yard art — drought-tolerant, fertilizer-free

If you saw this guy, would you be afraid? Or would you do a quick turnabout and snap him up?

Mexican alligator statuary bright red head blue patterned body 4 feet long

Mexican yard statuary is hugely popular here in Florida. The vibrant colors and artistic renderings of critters that usually make us squeal and run hold all the thrill of  jumping out of an airplane — with none of the risk.

On June 1, I shared some of our readers’ favorite yard art in the Tampa Bay Times.  I promised to post here what didn’t get published in the paper. (And the photo quality is SO much better here!) The guy above is Mexican statuary from Southwest & Tropical, 5635 State Road 54, in New Port Richey.

“We sell the monkeys, manatees and LOTS more,” says Dorothy (proprietor, I assume.)

Even though the one below ran in the paper, I’m replaying it here, both to riff on a theme and because, heck, it’s prettier on your monitor.

garden art plate stake ceramic alligator in center of blue and orange plate on stake for planting in garden

That alligator yard art is a tribute to the University of Florida’s Gators (note that I’m a supremely objective journalist! I’ve published this twice despite my loyalties to my alma mater, USF, and my kids’ school, FSU.) Darby Miller of South Tampa and North Carolina is the artist. This one’s not for sale, but you can find more of her goodies at www.etsy.com/shop/Floridaze.

Another Tampa artist who both saves and sells is Beth Nobles of Brandon, creative force behind  Gypsy’s Garden Art. The piece below — her favorite, it’s on her business card! — started with a frog soap dish that she never saw before and hasn’t seen since. (She gave this piece to a good friend.)

yard art tower are with pink vase glass bowl lavender vase and topped with a ceramic frog in a blue bowl      ceramic yard art frog made from soap dish on thrift store bowls, plates, vases













Lynn Barber, Hillsborough County Extension’s super helpful Florida-friendly landscaping agent, is an avid gardener and repurposer. Here’s a better look at the coffeepot planter that ran in the paper.

recycled yard art, electric coffeepot, silver, with artemsia, wire vine, sedum and assorted succulents

It’s planted with Artemisia, wire vine, sedum, and assorted succulents.

Her other favorite is this palm frond-turned-planter.

dried palm frond used as a plant hanger with orchid air plants

“I drilled two holes in the smaller portion (of the frond) and used a chain to hang this creation.” Lynn writes. “I glued Tillandsias on the inside and outside and have a Vanda orchid in full bloom hanging from it. This gives me lots of smiles while sitting on my front porch swing.”

I love Lynn’s porch — and so does she. And her family. And friends. And neighbors. And strangers.

“My front porch is my absolute favorite place to be,” she writes. “My neighbors like it, too, especially at happy hours.”

Are you thinking it’s only us women who are into yard art? Totally not! I know plenty of guys who appreciate a flower made from scrapped car parts. And my kind plumber husband once brought me a black toilet he’d pulled out of someone’s house. “Thought you might like this for the garden,” he said. (Thought appreciated. Toilet, not so much.)

Here’s Dan Dunn’s butterfly sunflower feeder, made with a natural sponge from Tarpon Springs.

sunflower plate on stake with big natural sponge in center yard art

“I make bird feeders (using dinner plates), butterfly feeders(using sponges harvested off Tarpon Springs), bird baths (using ceramic flower pot drainage saucers) and hand-painted gourd birdhouses,” Dan writes. “I make all these products out of my home and sell them at large art & craft shows in Florida.”

His business is My Secret Garden. (He’ll be at the Downtown Dunedin Craft Festival, along with a lot of other yard artists, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 23-24.)

And finally, one of the truly sweetest crafters/entrepreneurs I know — Mary Mirabal of Garden Whimsies by Mary.

“I was inspired to start a plate border several years ago after seeing one while visiting Anna Maria Island,” Mary writes. ” I thought it was so darn charming that I had to have one. My border is still growing with the plates I don’t use for my garden whimsies.”

multi-colored plates, red yellow blue used as flowerbed edging
I hope these creative folks give you some ideas! When the sun scorches our plants and freezes knock them to the ground, we still have drought-tolerant, cold-hardy, fertilizer-free … Yard Art!!



  1. lovein it..

  2. Thank you Penny for sharing the gator and ‘critters’ we have at our store. We offer fabulous pricing and top notch quality on all our products. ALL cast stone/concrete products made in the USA along with chimes and birdhouses and flamingoes – ALL made in the USA! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Love that gator! Thanks for the inspiration. :)

  4. Love all of it- recycling at its best!

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