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| Design |

Creating Your Own Magical Garden Fantasyland in Houston

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Sometimes patio furniture and potted plants aren't enough; you might want to entice faeries, elves and woodland nymphs to your garden by adding mystery and magic. Even if the goal is just to bring color, texture and art to your outdoor living space, exterior decorating provides the opportunity to break all the rules and deviate from traditional beiges and browns.

I set out to find some of the best resale shops inside the loop for building a magical garden fantasyland. The goal was to find small items, for tucking in and around plants, as well as large items, which could be seen from the kitchen or living room window.

The Guild Shop of St. John the Divine seems to have one of the largest outdoor inventories, with masks, stained glass, frogs, animal planters, furniture, pink flamingos and fountains. Coolest of all were two oversized chess pieces, a concrete soldier and the ubiquitous gnome. Inside you'll find room after room of tchotchkes, miniature furniture, wall décor and Talavera pottery. The shop donates to St. James House, the Episcopal Diocesan retirement home in Baytown, as well as other local charities.

2009 Dunlavy Street, theguildshop.org

The porcelain clowns, ceramic cat, lime green column, bird houses, bird cages and oversized butterflies found at the Charity Guild Shop would all add needed bursts of color to any garden setting. Props for their stained glass windows, an iron gothic folding screen with votive holders, reproduction carved Indian mirror, plaster mother and baby whales and a fantastic Scottish cast iron firebox. Operated by the Charity Guild of Catholic Women, this shop makes contributions to numerous children's charities.

1203 Lovett Boulevard, charityguildshop.org

A dozen yellow hand-painted happy face jars were perfect for brightening up the fence line. I found these at the Blue Bird Circle Resale Shop, along with a Native American woman with wolves, an art deco mannequin, ceramic birds and a folding screen with cut out stars. They had a very large inventory of wooden and iron headboards, as well as decorative metal wall pieces, all of which could be painted with bright colors. Their artwork was abundant and affordable; don't be afraid to hang paintings and mirrors outside or under your eaves. This organization pledges to support the Blue Bird Circle Clinic for Pediatric Neurology, as well as other beneficiaries.

615 W. Alabama, thebluebirdcircle.com

Though a smaller store, I still was able to find a few "must-haves" at Mustard Seed Resale Shop. Add an oversized candle to the large plant terrarium to make a great tabletop centerpiece. A pair of faux marble columns would add architectural detail and give height to potted plants. I found a wooden Tiki statuette, art deco hand-held mirror, golden cornucopia bowl and ceramic geese. Bonus points for their translucent pyramid paperweights, which would surely add mystical and healing properties to any outdoor retreat. The shop benefits the ministries of Magnificat Houses, Inc., which assists the homeless and chronically mentally ill, as well as other ministries.

1410 Elgin, mustardseedresaleshop.blogspot.com

Some of the oddest finds were at The Cottage Shop, including a Duck Dynasty Chia Willie handmade decorative planter, and an Answer Me Buddha™, "for fun and prophet!" I also found a glow in the dark Twinkle Toof, a dancing deer mosaic, and a life-sized silk bamboo planter (for those who don't have green thumbs). They had a nice collection of colored glass bottles, which can be placed over barren tree branches for nice effect. The shop is run by The Women's Home, a multi-ethnic, non-denominational, non-profit United Way agency that serves women who have experienced homelessness.

811 Westheimer, www.thewomenshome.org/cottage-shop.html

With locations around town, Goodwill and Salvation Army both remain steady suppliers of artful odds and ends. Finish out your garden by purchasing discounted Christmas ornaments on December 26, and try to negotiate a good deal on broken pottery from Mercado Mexico on Richmond near Greenbriar. What are you waiting for? Start enjoying your magical garden fantasyland now, before the hot days of summer are upon us.

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