LaReeca Rucker has been a journalist for more than 20 years, and her work has appeared in newspapers across the nation. She spent a decade as a features writer and multimedia journalist with The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, where she was also a USA TODAY contributor. She is a freelance journalist and support journalism instructor in the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media in Oxford, Mississippi.

Crazy yard art

LaReeca Rucker:
The Clarion-Ledger

Deep in the concrete jungles of Ridgeland, right off Old Canton Road in an urban shopping center, is a foliage-filled sanctuary of wild animals so brightly colored that passersby can't help but turn their heads, startled by giant giraffes, zebras and butterflies.

You may hear a monkey squeal, a frog ribbit, birds caw and sheep bleat if your imagination runs as wild as the yard art on display at Freshway Produce.

Like other stores in the Jackson metro area, Freshway has become a colorful place where shoppers looking for unique and eye-catching art can purchase something "cra-zazy" that's guaranteed to make your garden ferocious and fierce while your neighbors' is tame.

Want a flying pig? They got 'em.

Need a weird looking metal goat? It's there.

What about a 10-foot giraffe? Check.

"We have goats, rabbits, butterflies, giraffes," said owner Richard Cockrell, adding that giant butterflies and giraffes have been his most popular sellers. The giraffes come in 4-foot, 6-foot and 10-foot sizes.

Quirky yard art is so popular these days, it was recently used in a wedding proposal.

"We have frogs holding bouquets of flowers," Cockrell said. "I had one customer that was going to use that to put an engagement ring on it to propose to his fiancee. He purchased the frog, and I guess he was going to put the ring on the bouquet somewhere."

Look around, and you'll see crazy yard art everywhere. Some of it is even a reflection of modern day society.

It's kind of sad when even our garden frogs and gnomes are working on laptops and talking on cellphones, like some seen at Walmart in Ridgeland and Cracker Barrel in Jackson.

Are they so wired and busy, they can't leave modern technology out of our peaceful gardens? Must they be as tech-obsessive as us, checking their Facebook and Twitter while guarding our roses?

Roger Gallian, greenhouse manager of Lakeland Yard and Garden on Lakeland Drive in Flowood, said he's noticed the trend.

"I have noticed a lot of crazy yard art for sale, some metal creatures," he said. "Choice really depends upon personality. Some people are whimsical and some are traditional."

There many choices for today's gardeners.

"You have gazing balls, flags and ornate birdbaths for the more traditional gardener," he said. "Metal creatures, whirly-gigs and even the pink flamingo are now in every color for whimsical gardeners. Then you have new items that look old, unique wind chimes, wooden boxes, pottery and items that complement a garden design."

His biggest sellers are solar powered butterflies and hummingbirds, garden flags and pottery in bold colors.

"We have had some interest in miniature gardens, such as 'fairy gardens,' " he said, "and some renewed interest in terrariums."

Gardeners are also putting their crazy yard art in vegetable gardens.

"As everyone feels the continuing pinch of the economy, a lot of gardeners are in the 'fix up what I have' mode, and annual color is an inexpensive alternative," Gallian said. "Food you grow yourself tastes better and is cheaper and safer than those commercially produced. Besides, when you're outside enjoying the fresh air and exercise, you can put some of that crazy yard art out to brighten your day."

To comment on this story, call LaReeca Rucker at (601) 961-7034. She is @lareecarucker on Twitter and at


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