A Fantastic Forest of Plastic Flowers: Art, Garden, or Nuisance?


Plastic_flowers We’ve been meaning for some time to rant about this New York Times story  about 88 year-old Elizabeth Sheridan, who has planted–make that arranged–a number of fake Christmas trees in her yard and filled them with fake flowers.  There is also, according to the story, "an inflatable dinosaur, with figurines of animals and various wind chimes."

Now, any woman who puts an inflatable dinosaur in her garden is all right with us, but would you believe it–the neighbors don’t agree.  One man, a lawyer who lives alongside her on–wait for it–Puritan Avenue–said,

"It’s like a punch in the face every time I look out the window," he said. "Look, they put the brightest colors on the side facing me, just to bug me. I can’t go to my death knowing I didn’t do something about this."

Anyone who has ever been punched in the face might point out that looking at some fake flowers is not anywhere close to having your nose knocked out of joint, but Mrs. Sheridan, and her 53 year-old son, who lives with her and helps her tend this weird little garden, are not intimidated.  It is this kind of detail that keeps us coming back to the NYT:

Mr. Sheridan wears a tweed blazer, a traditional British flat cap and longish sideburns. He smokes a pipe and calls his mother "Mother." He is rarely seen without her.

"He has been harassing Mother, who is 88, just for displaying colorful flowers in her own yard," Mr. Sheridan said of Mr. Vairo. Peter_sellers

We’ve heard nothing new about Mrs. Sheridan, her angry lawyer neighbor, or her garden of punch-in-the-face plastic flowers, but we hope that she’s still out there, shaking things up on Puritan Avenue.

We also hope that there’s a 50-someting Peter Sellers type out there somewhere to play the part of  Mr. Sheridan in the movie adaptation of this little drama. Kevin Klein, perhaps?  Of course we’ll need Judi Dench for the lead. 


And can Wes Anderson direct?

Where’s our GardenRant agent when we need her?  We have a film deal to put together!


  1. Great story! If there wasn’t a tropical storm at my doorstep, I’d head out right now to find myself a blow-up something, and ‘plant’ it in my garden as a show of support! If an extra is needed for the film adaptation, just let me know.

  2. I love eccentricity! It’s fun to read about people who refuse to buckle under the pressure to conform. That being said, this woman is quite mad! So is her son who says, of the neigbor, “He has been harassing Mother, who is 88, just for displaying colorful flowers in her own yard.”

    They are not flowers, but plastic symbols of flowers. We could place a giant canvas over the house, paint flowers on it and call it “our garden of pretty flowers”. As Takoma Gardener say’s in her post today, “do people suppose that our eyes stop along the legal property lines and don’t see anything beyond it? Or is it stubborn individualism run amok?”

    As the son say’s “We were here when he bought his house. He knew what he was getting into.” It’s like people who move next to the airport, then complain about the noise. Yet, the “flower display” has for years “irked the neighbors, who must adhere to the Garden’s infamously strict standards of taste and demure design.”

    The woman and her son are doing this for one reason, to drive the neighbors crazy. I don’t believe they actually think what they have done is attractive. After arranging the “display” every morning “They often scurry back inside before neighbors step out to work”. Don’t sound like proud gardeners to me.

    Oh well, it’s in New York, not next to me.

  3. 1. The plastic flower forest was there when the neighbor moved in… he DID know what he was getting in to.
    2. That being said, a neighbor who insisted on “landscaping” with fake plants would prevent me from buying a home nearby.

  4. How about just cutting this little old lady some slack? At 88, gardening might be pretty hard for her, so if that neighbor doesn’t like the plastic flowers, why doesn’t he offer to plant some easy-care flowers on her property for her to enjoy? I, too, believe in the right to be a non-conformist or eccentric, as long as real harm isn’t being done as a result of it to others. And it doesn’t sound like that here.

  5. Here is the harm: “It has become such a curiosity over the past decade that it is a staple of neighborhood walking tours and a favorite drive-by spot for teenagers and tourists.” That is a bonafide public nuisance, if ever there was one.
    The motivation of this mother and son seems even more suspect when you read the full article and see that is is not just “pretty (fake) flowers” but layers of plastic junk and trinkets added on as well. These are not gardeners in any sense of the term — at best they are insane artists — at worst they are intentionally inflicting this eye-sore on others. The fact that they are using fake trees and flowers is just incidental to their outcome goal.
    I’m all for individual expression, but I’m betting NONE of you would want this on your street, let along right next door, and this certainly has brought down the neighbors’ property values and re-sale prospects.

  6. If this were an installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art or the Guggenheim, people would gush and gape over the “incredible plastic floral construction” — a la Jeff Koons! But since this exists in a neighborhood, the creative process to most people means channelling their energies into creating a perfect blanket of green lawn sans weeds. It’s all a matter of how you choose to look at things. And for the record, I would DIG having this on my block!

  7. For anyone who wants to see the surrounding houses I am the attorney suing the Sheridans. I can e-mail the photos. I can also send you articles from the founders of this community as well as the covenants governing the residents use of the exterior of their homes. Also, I have lived in the Gardens since 1959 and wehat they are doing is practically criminal.
    Peter Vairo

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