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While the plants always steal the show at the annual Garden Walk on Buffalo's West Side, art and everyday objects add signature touches.

Last weekend's walk was no exception.

This summer, shady perennials sooth the front yard of event participants Mike Parker and Lynn King on Auburn Avenue, but it's the rusted metal gear sticking out of the ground that gets everyone's attention.

"My husband actually garbage-picked that 15 years ago," King said. "He was on a bike ride and went back with the car."

The gear used to adorn a nonworking fireplace, but when the couple bought their home, they decided to place it among the violets and bleeding hearts.

Their neighbor, Jill Beck, has whimsical flair throughout her gardens. To add a touch of fine dining outdoors, she placed a chandelier on a metal hook. Standing near the entrance to her back yard garden is a chair she bought at a yard sale for $2. She painted it bright pink, purple, white, yellow and blue and plunked a purple petunia where the cane seating used to be.

"I see stuff and grab it," she told visitors on the Garden Walk. "My garden is 90 percent whimsical and 10 percent garden."

Here are some other ideas plucked from the Garden Walk:

A new twist on hanging plants from your porch -- upside down pots. The plants grow from the bottom of the pot, instead of the top. Lynn L. Widger on Ashland Avenue got her blue, ceramic pots from the Kinsman Co. catalog. From the base dangle coleus, rosemary and tarragon.

John Crawford and Scott Washburn on Breckenridge put a plum tree that they cut down to good use. They took the branches and wove a gate for their backyard garden. The natural look of the wood complements the simplicity of their Japanese-influenced garden. And everyone will ask, "Did you make that?"

Ladybugs not only eat harmful insects in the garden, but can add a playful touch. Siri Narayan and K.K. Fuda on Ashland Avenue bought a ladybug made from an old Army helmet. You can make your own by painting a helmet red with black spots. Use wire to create legs and antenna. Then let the critter loose in the yard.

Renee and Bruce Adams call a section of their garden on Auburn the "Lost Ruins."

"Over the years, I've done a lot of work in my house, and the city doesn't readily take construction material away, even small amounts," said Bruce Adams. "So I found creative ways to use the material in the garden."

His old sidewalk and old chimney have become stone material in walkways, borders and the garden. His wife's old bowling ball that was gathering dust in the attic has become a reflecting ball with a weathered surface that makes it look like stone. An old art project from college is a torso mounted on one wall. Even a rusting dish washer door has been turned into an object of interest adorning the fence.

An odd touch here and there can be just what a garden needs.


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