Some parts of the state have been experiencing spring-like temperatures, and while it’s too early to garden, Lisa Fida is hoping garden art will catch your fancy as you wait for the snow to melt.
Fida owns Timber Bay Home & Garden, based in her home in Lovell, and is the creator of Clifford, the Copper Eating Caterpillar. This 8-inch-by-2-inch creature’s segmented body is made from cast stone, which gives him an abstract look even as he realistically takes a few bites out of the copper leaf he grasps. His name may sound cartoonish, but Clifford is nothing if not a classy addition to the garden.
“He doesn’t bite, you don’t have to feed him, and he doesn’t reproduce,” Fida joked.
Fida used to live in Florida, where she gardened year round. When she moved to Maine, her husband and father-in-law cleared a large space for a garden at her new home. “Of course all the snow melts,” she recalled, “and I’m rippin’ and raring to go and get out there and plant, and they go ‘Sweetie, no. The ground is still frozen.’ ”
Unable to plant, Fida began buying garden art, “treasures,” as she called them. But the pieces weren’t durable. “I couldn’t afford the expensive stuff that I knew would last,” she said, “and the cheap stuff – it was cheap.”
So seven years ago, Fida began making her own garden art: plant stakes, bird baths and cast stone statuary like Clifford the caterpillar. (Cast stone is just a fancy term for a type of concrete, Fida said.)
Here’s how Fida works: she creates a model of the object she is designing, then makes rubber molds from the model. She packs the molds with a dry concrete mixture, lets them cure (concrete doesn’t dry, it cures), then weatherproofs the figures with sealant. Finally, Fida adds copper accents. Those eventually turn green, so after a few months in your garden, Clifford ($29.95) will be munching on a green leaf. Suzzie the Sunday Strolling Snail ($27.50 and $32.95) will have a green head, and Freddie the Fly Catching Frog ($39.95) will have green legs.
“What is nice about the materials that we use is they’re not going to damage the environment at all,” Fida said. “Cast stone and concrete is constantly recycled. So is copper. And obviously the glass is endlessly recycled.” (Fida’s garden stakes and other products contain glass elements.)
Cast stone has been used in buildings since the 12th century, so no need to worry about Clifford crumbling after just a season or two.
Find Fida’s creations in garden centers and gift stores or at online retailers. Or order them from Fida’s website, timberbayhg.com.