Need a breath of fresh air to escape all the dust from the mummy in the living room? Come into the garden and feast your eyes! Aside from the plantings and high fences to keep out prying eyes, the garden also serves as a canvas to show off your good taste. You’ll need ornaments made of copper with a nice patina of blue-green verdigris to illuminate its great age. Caution! Don’t confuse this with ambergris, which is whale vomit!
A few metal dragons here and there is the stuff. Many people like to have owls, with top hats and monocles, or of course, hidden in nooks and crannies. Why not use an old door, lay it on the ground and print a large caution sign on it to resemble an underground lair? Or make a few arcs of copper tubing, plant them in the ground, and finish it off with a neck and head? Now you have a lawn serpent! Let’s not forget sundials and gazing balls, too.
A Victorian cast iron pedestal birdbath will entice even the most discriminating fowl. Add a few cogs and wheels on the upright section to personalize it. If the birdbath has a ceramic basin, paint a friendly octopus or clock face on it. Birds won’t mind. They don’t give a crap about artistic expression! Anything you can drill a hole through and insert some tubing (and doesn’t mind being out in the weather) can be made into a bath or a bubbler. Got an old tuba laying around? What about a buffalo skull?
Does someone want to communicate with you through the means of actual paper delivered by hand? Huh! What’ll they think of next? But this is your chance to shine because a mailbox is perfectly suited to add design elements. Obviously adding gears and cogs to the side, copper piping around and steam vents on top is a great beginning. How about using a large metal newspaper tube-type box, clad it in wood, or faux wood, and add the kind of door seen on submarines, semi-conical, metal and with a red knob and pressure gauges?
Another idea is to clad the mailbox in wood (or faux wood) and then adds thick metal straps complete with locks on the side, so it looks like a small treasure chest. If nothing else, at least add a big octopus on top with tentacles reaching all around.
A tall weathervane is important to have, so that when the direction of the wind changes, you can shout dramatically to your neighbor “Jones! Weather coming from the south! Be careful! Jones! Jooonnness!!!” A tall iron weathervane with plenty of scrollwork attached will do the job nicely, especially with a dragon on top. But why stop there? Make it a whirligig and get some motion going. With a metal sail at one end, all sorts of action can be had. Maybe a zeppelin turning around, or octopus with moving tentacles, or a person with wings pedaling an antique helicopter?
Imagine gray circular stones, each with a letter as they march off in the distance. Now imagine a guest reading each one…”B…E…W…A…R…..hey! What’s going on here?!” Or with small dragon fossils embedded in them. Make your own by stamping in keys and clock parts into wet cement. No handy, man (get it, handyman)? You can buy beautiful stepping stones with Celtic imagery carved into it.
Nothing says welcome like a mat that says Trap Door. Lots of maps with clock faces and gears, but how about a lovely representation of a Kraken attackin’ a ship! Right neighborly! What about an all-seeing eye, to let them know you’re onto their hijinks? Or to really strike terror, a welcome mat that’s also an Ouija board. Careful when wiping your shoes in case you summon a demon!
Lots of folks have signs that say “Welcome to the Smiths”, and we say stuff and nonsense to that. It’s time to hang out your shingle, let them know you’re open for business! A large wooden sign with gears and cogs and Victorian script that announces “Laboratory of…”, or even create a blue plaque that lets guests be aware that this is “the former home of Dr. Hecklooper, Developer of the Hydraulic Carrot Peeler”. Surround a wooden plaque with copper tubing and announce “Welcome to the Vapor Works”. The sky’s the limit!
Unless you can get your hands on a living, squirming mandrake, you’ll have to make do with normal plants. Large diameter plumbing pipes with elbow joints are great. Rough them up, apply copper paint, and away you go. Take apart an old circular clock, set it on a stand, and put a plant in it. Stick some plants in a Victorian birdcage. For a small terrarium, use glass lab beakers that have different spouts, add some copper tubing and hang from a pole. If you have a more sheltered spot, you can buy living jellyfish that uses a sea urchin shell with green tentacles. Hang them from the ceiling. Faux pre-Columbian pottery and pretend Egyptian Coptic jars are also good for plopping a plant in.
Gardening? You would just get someone in for that. Far too busy in the lab. But having an assortment of tools hanging on the outside wall will give the impression that you could, if necessary, do the job yourself. First up, a set of giant tongs, the kind that was used to manhandle huge blocks of ice. “Would you like some ice in your tea? Here’s about 20 pounds worth”. Crash! Of course, you’ll have a couple of wicked-looking scythes, maybe even with a dark cloak and cowl hanging next to them. “Those are for night work” you would say, mysteriously.
You could make your own tools using the handles of old shovels and bending some metal on the bottom into strange shapes. For the true inventor, a steam-powered lawn mower will be the talk of the town. You’ll need a very old lawnmower (or a wagon), some handles in the back, and of course a firebox and large copper still. Plenty of tubing, valves, and pressure gauges will be necessary. Arrange it all together (then a miracle happens) and you’re ready to mow. Or leave it as a conversation piece.