Every blooming thing

Courtesy photo/Shirley Felder

The husband of Red Bluff Garden Club member, Shirley Felder, created this yard art for the couple's garden.

 My husband walked into the house not too long ago with a rock in his hand. He seemed excited and he asked me if I knew what it was. I figured this was a test. Right away I could see it was not a gold nugget. So after some intense scrutiny and squinting one eye, I came up with, “It’s a rock”.

“Wrong”, my artistic, creative husband told me. “It is a rock shaped like a duck’s head”. He then explained that as soon as he found a rock shaped like a duck’s body, rocks shaped like duck wings and some rocks shaped like duck tail feathers, he would have a complete flying duck. He would then imbed them in mortar and have an ornamental plaque for the garden. Yard art. And that is what he did.

As a true visionary and artist, he proceeded to collect his rocks one by one. As our ranch is along the river and includes a gravel pit created long ago, he had a great area to look for the perfect shaped rock. When all of the rocks were found, he made a frame 24 inches by 24 inches out of 2 by 4’s and laid the frame on a small sheet of plywood. He mixed mortar in a wheelbarrow. By controlling the amount of water, he produced a smooth, stiff material that he cast into his wooden form. He then imbedded his rocks into the mortar in the shape of a flying duck. He sponged the excess material off of the rocks when he was done. The next day he removed the forms. He let the plaque cure for a few days before handling it any more.

The next step was to build a base in the selected spot to hold the plaque. He made the base out of concrete because it had to be substantial to hold his plaque upright. He also imbedded pre-selected rocks in the concrete in the base. Remember, besides him being artistic and creative, his whole project was a work of love and not inconsequential, so it had to be well planned out.

The plaque was made of mortar, which is composed of cement, fine sand and lime. Whereas the base was made of concrete, which is a strong structural building material composed of cement, sand and large aggregate (gravel).

Now the fun began, getting the plaque into its’ home without breaking it. The plaque was brought from the shop on the tail-gate of the pick-up to its selected spot. So far so good. It was then lifted from the tail-gate into the groove on the base. Success.

The Flying Duck is now framed from behind by a Barberry bush, which has vibrant foliage with constantly colorful leaves in shades of greens, yellow and rich burgundy, deer resistant heather, which changes color year-round on one side and a Dwarf Mugo Pine, an evergreen, on the other side. A work of Art, perfectly framed.

Are you inspired to go rock hunting and mix some concrete? Amazing artistic things can be created for your yard or garden with this versatile material.

Red Bluff Garden Club has halted most of its activities for the duration of the quarantine. When we restart, join us the last Tuesday of each month (except July and December) at 12:30 p.m. at the Methodist Church Fellowship Hall on David Avenue in Red Bluff.

Red Bluff Garden Club is a member of Cascade District, California Garden Clubs, Inc., and National Garden Clubs, Inc.

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