Deer proof and drought resistant: Metal flowers make for efficient gardening

Jenny Gessaman
An overall shot of the Weikart's front yard, including gravel, rocks and metal plants.
Several varieties of metal flowers grow in a row.

Three years ago, the Weikarts started with weeds and tall grass.

Shelley Weikart was determined to have a beautiful front yard, and after 22 years gardening elsewhere in Lewistown, she didn’t think flowers would pose a challenge. So yes, the Weikarts tried a traditional garden, too. When did that change?

“After I spent one year of trying to have a garden,” Shelley said, “And spending over $400 on flowers and, in 24 hours, to have the deer eat them.”

Luckily, the couple’s annual tradition gave Shelley an answer to her garden woes. Each year, Jeff and Shelley visit Arizona and Mexico on a three-week vacation. Attracted by bright, vivid colors, Shelley noticed locals selling handmade flower sculptures across the border.

“I started buying a few of them, and then I bought a few more,” she said.

The couple suspects the blossoms are made from old cars, and Shelley said they were hand painted with a durable automotive paint.

Jeff enjoys the practicality of the new and growing garden, especially the simplicity of his role.

“I just do labor,” he smiled.

Jeff explained he installs the plants, taking them down for winter and then replanting in nicer weather.

 “Jeff isn’t into weeding flowers or planting flowers,” Shelley laughed.

She discovered the locals add new designs to their stock every year, and now grows her garden with the styles that catch her eye. The most recent additions are some of those new designs: a cactus and a sun.

“It’s whatever looks nice, whatever strikes me in Mexico,” she said.

The Weikart’s enjoy their garden for its distinctive look, but they have helped friends and neighbors acquire the exotic varieties, even Krings Greenhouse and Nursery.

“They looked at me kind of funny when we came out with 30,” Shelley laughed, recalling her encounter with the border patrol.

The low-maintenance plants are now a vacation tradition that ends at the couples’ yard. In front of the house, and facing the Lewistown City Pool, numerous and colorful flowers grow their metal blooms from gravel beds. And there’s no weeding: Shelley put down two layers of weed barrier fabric.

She still gets hungry visitors, though.

“The deer do come up to it,” Shelley said. “They even lick the metal flowers.”



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