Gardening: Try some scare tactics

By Leigh Bramwell

You wouldn't think a family with three cats would need any help protecting its fruit trees but our figs are plagued by birds.

The Landscaper and I designed and made a complicated, time-consuming and divorce-promoting enclosure to protect the plums, but the fig is too big for that and none of the pets are showing the slightest interest in guarding it.

I have suggested to The Landscaper that I spend the days in a chair under the fig, reading a book and idly waving my straw hat at the interlopers, but this idea was met with contempt.

"Get a scarecrow," he suggested. "They're very cool."

He's not the only one who thinks so.

Nelson-based photographer and artist Elizabeth Goodall was watching a French film and found herself taken with a window display of scarecrows. This started an interest which first became a hobby and then a business.

She had just completed revamping the garden at her bed and breakfast and was looking for a new project, so she assembled a collection of old clothes, bales of straw and various other items and constructed her first scarecrow.

He stood an imposing 2m and worked extremely well as a burglar deterrent outside her house.

She has since refined her designs and now turns out a range of very fetching, life-size scarecrows which, she confesses, are nothing like those she saw in the French film.

"The ones with moustaches do have a sort of international look, though," she says. They also have names - Emmanuel, Pierre and Alfonzo."

The scarecrows have proved a great hit.

"I gave the first few away to friends and then I discovered that people wanted to buy them. I make no promises about whether or not they will scare birds, but they certainly scare visitors, especially at night. And they do look great as a really individual piece of art in the garden."

Making them is extraordinarily messy but she thrives on the creative element, and particularly enjoys shopping for them.

"It's really interesting that accessories like belts and scarves are far more expensive in the op-shops than clothing," she says.

"I tend to go for the 'fill a bag for $5' option so I can search out really interesting pieces like Italian leather belts and Versace ties. Truly, I did find a Versace tie. It was still in its wrapper and had never been worn.

"I really like the idea that there's now a scarecrow wearing it."For more info on scarecrows, email

- Hamilton News

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