Introducing Ralph and Maybelline, My Two Favorite Scarecrows

I agree with Dorothy, the scarecrow is my favorite. The Tin Man, the Lion, and of course Toto are all great, but for me, it’s the scarecrow who wins my heart. The yellow brick road is where my love for this garden staple began.

What fun it is to come across a scarecrow guarding fields and overseeing gardens and, oh my, how resourceful and imaginative gardeners can be when building their creations.

Let’s talk about Mr. Lauren — or Ralph, to his friends. He began with two branches gathered from a friend’s woods. One long, sturdy branch for his spine and one for his shoulders and collarbone form his skeleton. When building your scarecrow, consider how you will anchor and create stability for your creation. Maybe he leans against a fence post, or in Ralph’s case, a garden ladder. Remember, as the newcomer to the garden, deer, birds and other creatures will want to “meet” him and he needs to keep his balance.

Once secure, the body needs a head. Have some fun. I have seen hubcaps, plates, pumpkins, and in the case of Ralph, a long neck gourd used for heads. The gourd provides a neck to tie to his collarbone. It’s your call if you want to paint a face or add google eyes, but I recommend adding a hat. Every good scarecrow needs a hat.

Since you can’t have a naked scarecrow standing in the field, choose clothes that will withstand the elements. Of course, Ralph is country estate chic in a denim jacket and white collared shirt with rolled sleeves. Somehow, I would expect nothing less from Mr. Lauren and his gardener creator.

If branches are not handy, try tomato stakes or broomsticks. There really is no wrong way to make a scarecrow.

A few years ago, I made a scarecrow, Miss Maybelline. Just like her name suggests, she was no ordinary gal and wouldn’t be caught outside in the elements. Maybelline was a city slicker. I scoured second-hand stores and found her parts. A Christmas tree stand for her base, dowel rods for the skeleton and ceiling light dome covers for her head. She was a group project and I was so glad for the help.

After spray-painting the tree stand black and securing her body, it was time to attach her head. This was quite a feat, but let me back up. Before cementing the two light covers together, I played hairdresser. I cut the stems off several silk mums and got busy with my glue gun, creating the ultimate purple hair. We painted rosy cheeks and pursed lips, even a mole. She had eyelashes and beaded vines for eyebrows. I even put butterflies in the hair.
Being the inside party girl that she was, she wore black leather pants and a hot pink tee. She had pink-striped drink koozies for bracelets and dangle earrings made of mirrors and small clay flowerpots.

Oh, back to attaching her head. As you may have guessed, it was heavy and big for the dowel rods, but thanks to an engineer friend, her lovely purple mum and rosy cheeks head was secured and attached to her spine.

I had fun styling her, and again thanks to that engineer, she had elbows and could hold the teapot watering can we attached. Maybelline finished off her look with stylish rubber boots and colorful gardening tools I found in the kid’s toy department.

Maybelline entered a scarecrow beauty pageant, and despite her obvious glamour and fashion flair, she was edged out by a down-on-the-farm hay-stuffed fellow. Don’t cry for her. Maybelline went on to live a long life attending parties at the little house on a big hill until an unfortunate spill one autumn evening. Despite emergency surgery, Maybelline’s days of being a scarecrow floozy are over; she now lives a quiet life in my garden shed.

If you have space, what fun it would be to create a scarecrow family. Let your imagination run wild. Scarecrows are a great addition to the garden at any time of the year. Adding pie pans or wind chimes can be a way to scare off animals and create a working scarecrow. For me, this is really is another form of art and expressing personality through the garden.