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Plant a few artsy artifacts and enjoy the fun that blooms
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A chandelier hangs over a table in Scott Begnaud's backyard. Over the years he's adorned it with various crystals and lights it with Christmas lights. - photo by Tom Reed

Gardening is a form of art.

You have colors, you have placement and you have your different mediums, from hardscape to shrubs to wildflowers.

But what about the little extras you can add to your garden that make it truly unique? That's where garden art comes in.

Some gardeners like to keep it simple, with a fountain or a bench as a focal point. For a more rambling look, try putting a little stone angel under a bush or hanging some pieces of broken mirror from fishing line in a tree.

The little touches add personality and whimsy to a garden, said Lori Carson, president of the Hall County Master Gardeners.

"There's nothing right or wrong when you put something in the garden to use as art," Carson said. "My favorite is whimsical things; looking around the corner at something that makes you smile."

That's the same philosophy followed by Gainesville resident Scott Begnaud, who has had the last 18 years to add little touches of fun - and in some cases nostalgia - to his garden.

He uses a bell-shaped glass as a hat on one stone character in his front yard, and in his backyard a rusted chandelier hangs over a table. It's lit by Christmas lights that twinkle off the myriad crystals hanging from its frame. There are also pieces from the old Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, where he used to stay, and ceramic pieces from broken pottery made by kids at a nearby school.

"My advice is, pick something that makes you smile," he said of garden art. "It's fun to walk around your garden and see it."

He describes his garden art style as "classic and fun," with unexpected things that he'll occasionally move around or swap out for other items he keeps in the basement.

Begnaud's finds have come from friends, antique stores and salvage shops. Sometimes he's gone to Atlanta to look for fun additions to the garden.

For travelers along U.S. 129 in Jackson County, a patch of bright flowers marks another spot for garden art. The metal flowers, some as high as 6 feet tall, are the handiwork of Charlie Rakestraw, who has been making metal artwork with his family for years.

"The big flowers I've been doing ... I've made them smaller in the past, not these giant flowers," he said, adding that as he changes what he sells, something inevitably will catch someone's eye as they drive past.

"People like change, want to see something different."

Along with ironwork, which Carson said is also found at the Hall County Master Gardeners' Garden Expo, you can also use old saws or farm tools to dress up the garden.

"You can use really huge pottery - it can be just the pot," she said. "I've seen people collect blue glass. They'll make a bottle tree and decorate it with blue bottles."

But before you go hog wild with your finds, Begnaud recommended people edit what they have before dumping it all in the garden.

"Everything has a purpose, either visually or artistically," he said. "Edit is the key word."

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