P80411After all the years it was out there, someone, somewhere must have gotten good pictures of it. I never did. Nor did anyone I know. It was something of a famous landmark in Santa Clara.

First, I should explain these pictures that my niece sent from here Mid City Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles. As you can see, this is a well kept middle aged home with minimal setback from the sidewalk. It is in a delightfully tree shaded neighborhood of comparable homes.

What are those black and white silhouettes of city skylines on those two plastic panels in front, you ask? They are a fence. Seriously. There are several similar panels around the perimeter of the front yard, at the edge of the sidewalk, and up the sides. They depict a variety of familiar landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Space Needle, the Eiffel Tower, the Tower Bridge and so on. They are all jumbled together so that landmarks from cities that are thousands of miles apart can share the same skyline. Mount Rushmore is depicted on the gate, adjacent to a city skyline that features both the Gateway Arch and the Sydney Opera House. Someone actually paid a lot of money to get this fence constructed and installed around the front garden of their otherwise well tended home. But wait; there’s more.

The picture below shows what lurks behind the fence. It was actually worse before the fence was built, when it was in full view. As tacky as the fence is, at least it obscures it. ‘It’ is a fountain; but not just any fountain. This picture does not do it justice. It really should be viewed at night, when it lights up with disco lights and emits eerily illuminated water vapor. It sometimes plays music. Yes, someone really though it was a good idea to put this in the front yard, where, before the fence was built, it was visible to anyone in the vicinity.P80411+

Now, getting back to the mower. It did not work. It probably worked at one time. It was an old mower, from before the mid-1960s or so. The person who owned it apparently did not like using it, but did not want to get rid of it either.

He had it bronzed. Yup. Bronzed. The front garden of his mid-1950s tract home in Santa Clara was paved with exposed aggregate concrete, with a big pedestal in the middle, on which, the bronzed mower was proudly displayed. The concrete was of exceptional quality, and would have made a nice patio if it had a bit of landscaping around it. Instead, it was surrounded by only a simple but tasteful low iron fence with tan slumpstone pillars. The fence surrounded the perimeter of the front garden, at the edge of the sidewalk and up the sides. There was no plant material in the front garden. None.

The mower debuted sometime about 1970. The kids of my generation do not remember it not being there, so it was there as long as any of us can remember. Some of our parents believe it might have been there as early as 1964. The home and paved front yard were always impeccably maintained.

Tacky? Yes, of course.

Crazy? Maybe.

It gets worse.

In about 1995, the home sold. It actually sold rather quickly because it was in such good condition. Everyone thought that whomever purchased it would remove all the pavement and the mower, and landscape the front garden. But no. They moved in, painted the home a different color, and maintained the front garden as it had always been maintained. What is the point of living in such a nice home in such a nice neighborhood with such nice soil and in one of the best climates on in the World if the garden is paved?!

Only a few years ago, the home was sold a second time, and those who purchased it finally removed all the concrete and bronzed mower, and outfitted the home with a simple but presentable landscape that is more compatible with the rest of the neighborhood.

The funny thing is that everyone in that neighborhood had lived with the bronzed mower for so long that it was somewhat saddening to see it go! We all knew why it needed to go, and that the home looks so much better without it, but it was familiar. It was cool in a weird sort of way. It was defiant. It certainly was unique. It was environmentally responsible, and about as drought tolerant as it gets.

It is still impossible to imagine that the black and white plastic ‘city skyline’ fence and steamy disco fountain within will ever be so appreciated; but who knows?

24 thoughts on “Mower

    1. We have a serious problem with that here as well, but for metal that is more valuable, like the copper in electric cable and air conditioning radiators. A bronzed lawn mower is not very valuable. I do not believe that it was really bronzed, but merely painted.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am forwarding your post to my husband. He has started to install “sculptural elements” around our garden. I am not very happy about the bits of junk that have started to appear. At least there is no wishing well yet, or no old bikes or wheelbarrows holding pots of flowers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know, my neighbor who ‘decorated’ the front garden with rotten old furniture was the same one who complained that I park an old car at the curb in front of my home. I will never understand the allure of old wheelbarrows and old chairs and such.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As much as Brent complains about his neighborhood, it really is nice. I like how the middle aged homes are maintained instead of replaced with modern homes, although that will likely happen over the years. When it is necessary to share a neighborhood with so many other people all crowded so closely to each other, some of them are likely to have different taste, or not conform to what others want. It is still worth living in a nice neighborhood.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow. Some story. I am appalled when people cover their yards with pavement. Thank goodness it was eventually removed. As for the lawn mower, I do not like gas-powered mowers, bronzed or otherwise. It is a very good thing I did not live on the same block with this house.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Tony Tomeo and commented:

    Again, this old article does not conform to the ‘horridculture’ meme for Wednesday. It is not so much about bad horticulture as it is about ‘distinctive’ taste and landscape design.


    1. It would have been rad to have gotten a picture of it. At the time, it was just considered to be ridiculous. No one thought that we would eventually miss it.


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