Whimsy in the Garden: Beautiful Spring Planters & Surprising Use for Bowling Balls

I love garden art and the delightful whimsy it adds to a garden. During the summer, I love to visit the garden centers in my area to see what new things they have in. I came across these fun pieces in one of the local Pike Nurseries a few years back.


These colorful cows were so funny! I could see a mini herd of three gathered in one part of the garden.


This whimsical pink sofa/bench was outside an antique shop/garden center many summers ago. Sadly, the shop is no longer there. I used to love visiting it when it was still in business. Once the world returns to normal and I’m back home, one of the first things I plan on doing is going antiquing. I haven’t done that in years and I really miss it.


I saw this guy hard at work watering the garden during a tour of Arthur Blank’s garden one year. Mr. Blank was one of the co-founders of The Home Depot and his home was included in the Garden for Connoisseurs Tour that year.

Garden Tour of Arthur Blank's Garden, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour 01_wm


I added this bit of whimsy to my front garden many years ago. I purchased this garden art ball in my local Wild Birds Unlimited and took this photo shortly after placing it in the garden. It was beautiful for a few weeks, then one day I looked down and was dismayed to see it badly chipped all over. Big chunks were missing and it looked terrible. A week or so before we had a tornado with hail come through and I guess the hail caused the damage. It looked so bad, I had to discard it. I guess you can’t put out pretty garden balls where you occasionally get hail.


I came across this wonderful bottle tree in one of my favorite decorating books, Southern Style, many years ago. I loved how it looked and could never get it out of my mind. (Southern Style is available here: Southern Style.)


One day while shopping in the Ballad Designs Outlet in Atlanta, I came across some black, metal bottle trees. They were drastically reduced to $60. I think the original price was around $300, or something like that. I purchased one and told my friend, Jan, about them. She immediately purchased one for her garden, too. This is how her bottle tree looked in her garden.

Bottle Tree in the garden


Here’s mine on my deck a few months ago right after a short-lived snow-storm…my favorite kind of snow-storm. lol I just repainted it a few years back…see more of that in this post: Bottle Tree Makeover. The photo below is from where I posted it on Instagram here: Between Naps On The Porch on Instagram.

Bottle Tree in Snow


So this is what prompted today’s post about whimsical garden art: A few days ago I loaded a couple of things into my SUV that my son had been meaning to take to the landfill, but had not had the time. When I arrived at the building where you unload your car, this is what I saw outside. Ummm. What are those things around the perimeter or the building?

Landscaping with Bowling Balls


At first I wasn’t sure what I was seeing, then I realized what it was: Bowling Balls!

Bowling Balls in the Garden, Landscaping with Bowling Balls


They had landscaped all around the building as far as you could see with old, abandoned bowling balls.

Bowling Balls Become Garden Art


Cool way to recycle them…turn them into garden art and mulch at the same time.

What to do with old Bowling Balls


I wonder if the inspiration for using the bowling balls came from the beautiful gazing balls or art balls you sometimes see in gardens. Or, maybe it was from decorative balls like these I saw floating during a tour of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. (Take the tour here: Tour the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.)


Recently during a visit to Home Depot to buy some much-needed household items, I ventured into the garden shop which was virtually empty. As I walked around the almost empty outdoor area, I kept wondering where all the annuals were. Turns out the planting time here in this part of Ohio is after Mother’s Day. In Georgia, you can plant annuals any time after April 15th. This area of Ohio runs about a month behind my zone back home.

Anyway, I picked up two pretty planters because I was craving, literally CRAVING something of beauty in the midst of all the chaos we are experiencing right now. These were in plastic temporary pots so I purchased two slightly larger planters and transplanted the whole thing in one big swoop, adding in potting soil as needed to fill it in.

Daffodils, Tulilps, Hyacinths in Spring Planter


When I purchased them, a few of the daffodils were in bloom and I could just see the Hyacinths coming up out of the dirt. Wow, are they gorgeous now!

The tulips were a complete surprise! They weren’t even peeking out of the dirt when I bought the planters, so I was delighted when they showed up a few days ago. These planters (minus the pots) were around $14 each f I’m remembering correctly. That’s a steal for all the joy they’ve brought!

I’ve been bringing them inside on the “freeze warning” nights but soon those will be all in the past and they can stay outside for good. Once everything is done blooming, I’ll transplant them all into the garden and hopefully, they will reappear next year.

Spring Planter, Daffodils, Tulips, Grape Hyacinths


I hope this post brings you a bit of garden happiness. There’s nothing like playing in the garden with beautiful flowers to lift the spirits. Have you been playing outside this spring, or is it still a bit too cold in your area?

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  1. Your pot of beautiful flowers bring a smile to my heart, something I need about now. A comment about your last posting – I loved the work stations you and your dil created. It is so nice how you and Nancy seem to get along so well and have similar taste. Enjoy being with your family. My sons and their families only live about 6 minutes away, but we feel we need to stay distant for safety reasons. My one son is a nurse and he has the virus now. Fortunately, his symptoms have been mild. So thank you for spreading joy, I really look forward to your posts !

  2. Carol A Norton says

    I recognized the Chihuly glass! Our Botanic/Art Museum has done installations of his a couple times. They are breathtaking! Nightime tours are spectacular.

  3. I bet the glass balls and ornamentations are Chihuly art! He does beautiful glass work that also adorns the botanical garden in St. Louis, MO.

  4. Selma Kessler says

    Hi Susan! You and Nancy have such great work spaces set up! I’m set up working at our kitchen island. 😀 No complaints, though. Glad to still be working, and truthfully, I’m very comfortable. I LOVE the bowling balls at the recycling center/landfill! They really are fun! We have a local small business that is a combination garden store/art store, and one of the artists there paints bowling balls that serve as yard art. They are mostly comical characters, but there are also some college logos, smiley faces and flowers. And on the subject of flowers, your planters are just delightful! I bet they smell lovely, too with those hyacinths. I was also craving some “bloomage”, so I bought 4 big bowls of pansies and a couple of gorgeous ranunculus in pots last Saturday from the garden store I referenced earlier. And naturally, the low temp this week is predicted to be in the 20’s, (too cold even for cold tolerant pansies) so my beautiful flowers are hunkered down in the garage at least until the weekend. Sigh. Clearly, Mother Nature didn’t get the memo that Spring was supposed to start March 20th. As always, thanks for your cheery and informative posts–they’re always a bright spot in my day! Stay cozy!


  5. Hi Susan! So glad you’re able to turn lemons into lemonade, as you spend this quarantine time with your family in Ohio! It’s a win-win… they need and welcome your help and kind companionship, and you don’t have to stay home alone for weeks! I appreciate that while you’re away you are still posting on your blog. I really enjoy following your adventures!
    Those planters and flowers are gorgeous! Great idea!
    The bowling balls gave me an idea… I wonder if you could take an old bowling ball and paint it to look something like the “garden art ball” you had that was broken by hail? Or, paint it using a seasonal theme? Maybe you could even turn one into a centerpiece! (As you can tell, I’ve been cooped up too long! 🙂 Take care… be safe!

  6. I loved seeing the bowling balls. I glued (used silicone) glass pieces to the black bowling ball that was my mothers and use it as garden art. It has been in my garden since 2004 and this year I refurbished it by replacing the old glass pieces with new ones. Its a sweet reminder of my mom. Your bulb arrangement is so pretty. All of those bulbs should do great in Ohio and bloom again next year .

  7. I will buy some flowers on my next adventure out–really need some. And loved the otter hose holder. So cute.

  8. Sandra D in Joliet says

    I love Chihuly too. I went to the Garfield Conservatory in Chicago to see his works. I wonder if they got all those bowling balls from an alley that closed down. I love little things tucked here and there in my garden but I’m cutting back this year. I love pinwheels stuck in the top of the fence as I go in the vegetable garden area. They seem to blow better up high. I already bought some at Hobby Lobby (before “the V”). I also love wind chimes.

  9. Susan thank you for sharing your beautiful desks & the garden whimsy, I’ve always had a penchant for whimsy. We in CA have just started to have warmer weather & I’m getting excited to get out & work in my yard. I think when you plant lovely flowers, it delights many.

  10. You not only cheered you and your family’s spirits with the pot, but I bet anyone walking by or the neighbors are also cheered up. The flowers are beautiful! I love garden art and I love the bottle trees. They even make bottle bushes. My bulbs are done flowering and now time for roses.

  11. Love the planter with the spring flowers. When I saw the bowling balls, I wondered what would happen if there was a tornado. Sorry my mind went there. LOL
    Stay well. If things don’t get better soon, women everywhere will revolt for the lack of hair salons.

  12. Franki Parde says

    I use my late father’s bowling ball as art, too! Some of those older models are really gorgeous (and don’t chip…) I’m a “gazing ball” fanatic. in planters, beside pathways…and change them around all the time. Chihuly is a favorite of mine!! franki

    • Franki, do you live in an area where you get hail? I wish I could have more gazing balls and art balls in my garden. Love how they look!

  13. Brenda Lawrence says

    I love a bit of whimsy in the garden, loving those little cows for sure. How fun with the bowling balls, I’ve seen them made into ladybugs, which I think are adorable. I think they would be cute painted other ways as well. I have loved your bottle tree from the moment I saw it! Have been wanting one since then, still don’t have one but maybe on day. Your beautiful pot of spring flowers is just beautiful Susan. Yes in the north here, we have to wait until around Mother’s day to plant outside our pretty flowers, although we do enjoy the bulbs flowers that bloom in Feb/April. Your planter sure is a bright spot in what is going on around the world Susan. Hugs, Brenda

  14. Cyndi Raines says

    Susan , your spring planter is gorgeous! It will do well for next spring, no worries. I have an old bowling ball that I painted red and perch it on a bird bath pedestal in the winter for a little color in the garden. Our springs do come late compared to our southern states ad I get antsy when I see your beautiful flowers and ours are just barely peeking out of the dirt. It’s a joy to be outside and hear the birds chirping and enjoy the daffodils with their pretty faces.

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