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Putting the Metal to the Petal

Copper, Iron or Steel Garden Art, Whether Decorative, Such as Animal Sculptures, or Practical, Such as Planters and Trellises, Offer Constant Companions to Blooms

April 28, 2001|JULIE BAWDEN DAVIS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

When it comes to decorating landscapes, today's backyard gardeners like maintenance- free metal items because they provide year-round texture, structure and focal points.

Made from various types of metal, including copper, iron and steel, metal garden art comes in many forms. Especially popular are such whimsical characters as bugs, reptiles, butterflies, hummingbirds, pigs and chickens. You'll find decorative pieces and usable items, from planters and window boxes to trellises, arbors and topiaries.

"Gardeners like the way that metal ages year after year--giving a garden a feeling of permanence and tender loving care," said metal artist Kelli Ellen of Seattle Garden Art, who will sell her pieces at the Fullerton Arboretum's Green Scene Garden Show today and Sunday. "Many women refer to their metal garden art as jewelry. The pieces dress up the garden even when it doesn't look its best."

Garden accessories are popular and metal garden art is a big part of that

trend, said metal artist Karen Robbins, whose pieces sell through Brea-based California Living Nursery, which will also be at the Green Scene.

"People are indulging themselves in their outdoor spaces and decorating their backyards for the day and evening. At the same time, they have limited space and want to use it wisely," Robbins said. "These pieces also go well with water gardens."

Metal art is also popular because of the whimsy it brings to the garden, said Ron Shearer of Laguna Beach-based Rusty Garden Art, also at this weekend's sale.

"Many pieces tell a story," said Shearer, who has 60 designs, including wall hangings, window boxes, free-standing planters and hanging pots.

"Gardeners want to be surprised and entertained," he said. "They like to make the garden fun. A metal kitten, frog or chicken can do that."

If the piece comes on a rod, you can plant it in a bush or shrub and the image will appear to be peeking out. Smaller pieces shaped like lizards and frogs can be placed on outdoor coffee tables. Although you can use metal art anywhere in the garden, many people choose to place items where they can see them every day.

"Most people will put them along a front walkway or outside of a kitchen window," Ellen said. "But metal art is also popular in secret gardens."

* California Living Nursery, 12580 Whittier Ave., Brea. Open Monday through Saturday and Sundays until the end of May. (562) 690-8886.

SHOW TIMES

The 28th annual Green Scene Garden Show is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Fullerton Arboretum, 1900 Associated Road, at Yorba Linda Boulevard, one block west of the Orange Freeway. Admission is $6; free to children younger than 18. Call (714) 278-3579; or visit http://www.arboretum.fullerton .edu. The U.C. Master Gardeners will host an informational booth at the show.

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