A Garden Gnome.

An epidemic has swept the South, one of epic proportions that threatens the very underpinnings of good taste.  We’ve all seen it and we’ve all commented on it, it’s the phenomenon of yard art and it’s a plague that seems to have set in for the long haul.

Yard art takes on many forms, from your traditional gnomes (made popular by a certain internet travel site) to your pink flamingos to your garden variety ceramic rabbits.  There’s yard art to match every whim and mood you might need.

For the hunters and naturalists, there’s every kind of animal imaginable.  I once had neighbors across the street from me that had geese, frogs, rabbits, deer, mushrooms and squirrels.  All ceramic.  They were arranged in a little nativity-type scene as if they were all in mid-step, frozen in time like the creatures of Narnia.

What I don’t understand about yard art is the compulsion to display it in the front yard.  It’s the one addition to a house guaranteed to lower the value.  To this day, I still don’t comprehend my neighbor’s desire to keep an entire plaster zoo in the natural area of their front yard.

Wife Number 2 and I used to make fun of the display.  We thought it would be funny to put a ceramic Elmer Fudd alongside them, elephant gun and all.  Or maybe late one night, arrange the animals into some obscene orgy and see how long it took for our neighbors to notice.  We even toyed with the idea of buying some outrageous yard art for our own front yard, and trying to out-gaud them.  Move the pieces a foot each night so that every day, they looked like they were alive but moving in super slow motion.

After all our talk, Number 2 and I did finally break down and get into the yard art craze.  We bought a gnome at a flea market for ten bucks.  He was patina colored and pushed a manual lawnmower, the kind with the cylinder blades they used in the fifties.  We named him Gordy the Garden Gnome and stuck him in our herb garden out back.  It was our wish that one day, he would come to life and mow the back yard for us.  He never did.

Have you even been out driving and seen that wonder of architecture known as the Plaster Yard?  That’s the front yard that has more yard art than grass.  Miniature wells, painted animals, birdbaths, garden gazing balls.  You name it, those people have it.  What, may I ask, is so alluring about these adornments?  What type of childhood trauma must one endure to believe this much yard art looks good?

Yard art is one of those amazing phenomena that I will never understand.  Its appeal crosses racial and social lines, refusing to allow type-casting of its many denizens.  Most displays are beyond the definition of gaudy, pushing the boundaries of questionable taste and I just don’t get it.  But then again, you should see the lights I decorate the house with at Christmas.  Griswald, Schmiswald.

For some really gaudy yard art, visit SouthernYardArt.com .