Hayes Jackson turns castoffs into useful, whimsical garden sculpture
by Lisa Davis
Star Features Editor
Apr 17, 2011 | 2985 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The 7-acre garden at Hayes Jackson’s Anniston home is green in every sense of the word.

Not only is it lush with foliage and blooms, it’s environmentally green in its use of junk — Jackson’s word, not ours — that’s been recycled into garden art.

Jackson’s creations are whimsical, unique — and cheap.

“A lot of these things are easy to do, and so inexpensive. Just incorporate found objects,” said Jackson, who is the urban regional extension agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. He’s also a driving volunteer force behind the planned Longleaf Botanical Gardens at the Anniston Museum of Natural History.

Jackson taught a class several years ago on recycled garden art. His students went to the landfill, brought back junk and turned in into garden sculptures, which are displayed in the museum’s backyard.

“I love metal and I love concrete because they last,” Jackson said. “I’ve built planters out of pieces of broken concrete. Bury them in the ground, or stand them up in a square shape, fill with soil, put in a hosta, instant planter.”

His favorite piece is one he calls The Garden Dragon. It’s sculpted from his grandmother’s old concrete picnic table, which broke into triangular pieces. Jackson stood them up on end to look like the ridges on the back of a sea serpent, rising out of the grass.

Elsewhere in Jackson’s garden:

• An old sink and an old garbage can become planters for hostas, mixed with some evergreen ferns for texture.

• An old TV antenna becomes a trellis.

• Pieces of broken concrete become edging or retaining walls — much more interesting and natural than those castle walls from the store, Jackson said.

• Broken terrazzo tiles, left over from a flooring project, become pavers and stepping stones.

• Castoff metal pipes become hose guards and rails for hanging baskets.

• Broken pieces of sidewalk become garden benches, after being epoxied on top of concrete blocks and painted blue with some clearance paint from the hardware store.

“This is all stuff that can done with a little gas money and a little energy, just looking for things,” Jackson said

The best and easiest place to scavenge? The curb, when people put junk out on the street.

“If you see someplace where they’re knocking a building down, that’s good,” Jackson added. “I love old brick columns, old masonry. You can create a broken column that’s fallen on the ground, and plant things in it. It gives you this very archeological look, like it’s been there forever.”

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