I spotted this donkey, deer family, lighthouse, gazing ball, and Dutch children in one front yard in a section of houses built in the fifties. The children are supposed to be smooching, but the homeowner separated them. I guess there’s no kissing on the lawn.
I imagine the kitchen in this house has pink or avocado green appliances and a formica table with metal chairs and vinyl seat covers. In the living room, there’s a starburst clock, console television, and dial telephone with a twisted cord. Plastic is laid across the couch to protect it from dust. So retro. Such nostalgia.
Kitschy lawn ornaments remind me of my girlhood in Ohio. They make me smile.
Random facts about lawn ornaments
House dwarves preceded gnomes in Italian gardens since the Renaissance. Over the course of the 1700’s, they began invading Switzerland, Germany, France and England. The most famous dwarf is the Travelocity gnome, recognized all over the world.
America began copying the lawn ornamentation of wealthy Europeans around the 1870s as front yards and lawns became a middle class thing.
The plastic flamingo was designed by Donald Featherstone in 1957. John Waters’ 1972 cult classic Pink Flamingos helped the ornament gain reputation as kitsch art. It is the most popular lawn ornament: 250,000 are sold every year.
The concrete lawn goose appeared in 1980. Kentucky and Ohio both lay claim to its origins, but its popularity certainly was strongest in the Midwest. We have many lawn geese in my neighborhood, many of them dressed in clothes according to the season. I’m not sure why. Geese are obnoxious and messy.
Personally, I think homeowners put deer in their front yards to get traffic to slow down. Most people freak out when they see a deer, afraid it might decide to run directly into their car. And that’s with good reason. Deer cause 1.5 million car accidents, 175 to 200 fatalities, and 10,000 injuries every year (Deer vs. Car).
What’s in my yard?
The little cement frog and the rabbit are from my mother’s garden. The crow, which sits on a playhouse, is from my husband’s grandfather. The cement deer came to me through my daughter. It, too, has sentimental value, because it belonged to a friend of hers who died from cancer; when her house was sold, she and her boyfriend grabbed the deer before trash day. The sun on our fence was given to me by my brother’s late girlfriend, and that’s one of four huge rustbelt sunflowers.
Since Clementine is often in the yard, I included her in this collection!
How about you? What kind of kitsch is in your yard?
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the award-winning author of adult contemporary fiction In the Context of Love, a 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist.
Angelica Schirrick had always suspected there was something deeply disturbing about her family, but the truth was more than she bargained for.
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers Favorite Book Award Finalist
2015 Great Midwest Book Fest Honorable Mention