Yard art blooms alongside flowers and vegetables at Bacliff home
Although Karen and Bobby Craig’s Bacliff backyard is lush with blooming flowers and tasty vegetables, it’s the yard art that takes center stage.
A vintage washing machine tub contains purple wandering Jew; emu feeders attached to a picket fence are repurposed planter boxes; a wire basket atop a rusting bicycle holds bouquets of flowers; and a vintage iron headboard is the backdrop for a bed of fuchsia dianthuses.
A tall and imposing Smokey Bear, carved out of wood, with a pipe in his mouth and lei around his neck, greets visitors.
A metal flamingo sways to and fro in the breeze, a claw-foot tub is full of roses, and an authentic Coca-Cola sign hangs above an antique Coke machine in the outdoor kitchen area. Yosemite Sam, another wooden statue, stands guard nearby.
Wind chimes, kinetic sculptures, a bottle tree, farm plow, antiquated water pump pumping water into a tank of goldfish, and a flying, guitar-playing cow are just a sampling of the many collectibles.
“I don’t really go looking for these art treasures,” Karen Craig said. “My family knows I love these types of things, so they bring them to me quite often.”
Much of the art, such as the tall copper sculpture resembling giant Tinkertoys, is in constant motion because of the wind.
“I am drawn to anything that moves and twirls,” Craig said. “I find it very soothing.”
Knickknacks are everywhere; many of them aging, but Craig likes the patinated look.
“When you live near the bay, you know things are going to rust, but you just let them age naturally,” she said.
Aside from the décor, Craig maintains a central garden area containing bricked beds and several galvanized troughs filled with produce and flowering plants.
“I call this my English Garden,” she said. “My grandma used to tell me that you should not worry about what you put in your garden, just throw it in there and let it grow. If something doesn’t work, you pull it up and put in something else.”
A crawfish pot strainer substitutes as a clever planter, sprouting new potatoes and cucumbers. Rain lilies thrive happily in a wooden flower cart and nearby geraniums are not only pretty to look at, they also keep mosquitoes away. A couple of scarecrows dissuade the birds from sneaking nibbles of produce.
Fruit trees are dotted about, and Craig’s dinner plate hibiscuses — with large, bright crimson blooms — are her pride and joy.
A fire pit area with antique signage, rusty tree saw and other weathered farm implements hanging on the fence, makes for a warm gathering place during winter months.
Three rain tanks holding 2,500 gallons of water, collected from roof gutters, make it possible for Craig to conserve water while keeping her yard and gardens nourished, especially her prized tomatoes.
Another conservation practice of Craig’s is raising chickens.
“You don’t need a compost pile when you have chickens,” she said. “Chicken manure makes great fertilizer, plus with 10 laying hens, they provide about six to eight eggs per day during the fall season.”
To the left of the house is an area Craig calls the turtle bar. A fountain with turtle statuary and goldfish is surrounded by nautical items, concrete table and benches, and an old wooden canoe full of flowers. A sign with the wording, “Jak Se Mas,” asks “how are you” in Czech, Craig’s heritage.
With such a bountiful yard, Craig makes dinner most nights with food from her garden.
“I have everything I want and need right here,” she said. “I’m happiest when I put on a floppy hat, my fishing shirt and go out to the garden.”