In the garden 

Yeah, so I’m not much of a green thumb. Which pains me greatly, because I want nothing more in life than to become a female version of Dicken and cultivate my own secret garden where baby animals (preferably squirrels) flock to my side. I do my part by waving to any squirrels I happen across, but they’ve yet to warm up to me. (This is the part where my longsuffering husband sighs dramatically at my squirrel love and shakes his head.)

Anyway, gardening. Nothing inspires me more to try again at the whole thing than a trip to Wilshire Garden Market (2821 Wilshire; 879- 1121). It’s not so much the plants, but the feel of the shop — a lovely space that looks, smells and sounds like an outdoor room, like it grew out of the earth just like the thick greenery arching over the trellised entry.

Inside, I loved the many, many styles of outdoor rugs and pillows for decorating outdoors — one of the easiest ways to turn your backyard into its own space. The patterns run from whimsical, watercolor florals to exotic prints that wouldn’t look out of place in a Moroccan souk.

For outdoor entertaining, Wilshire Garden Market stocks plates and glasses by Le Cadeaux, which look uncannily like painted ceramics, but are made of unbreakable melamine. Very cool.

I also was really intrigued by something called rain chains. These are long, metal “chains” that hang from gutters and act as downspouts, funneling rainwater. The rain chains at Wilshire Garden Market are done in a bright copper and have different patterns, like linking hoops, tiny umbrellas or open flowers.

Finally, this isn’t really something for outside, but I absolutely loved the La Lavande Savon Oeufs, or French soap eggs. Just like they sound, these are egg-shaped soaps done in clean scents nestled in egg cartons.

But what if you want a giant dinosaur sculpture in your yard? Obviously, you need to head to Statuary World (8401 N. Interstate 35; 478-7000), your one-stop-shop for every type of statuary you can imagine, plus fountains, glazed pots, outdoor furniture and more. Lots, lots more.

My one foray into statuary was a naked garden gnome my sister and I adopted from our dad’s backyard. We named him Percival Weatherby, painted him in cheery clothes (and, obviously, rosy cheeks) and displayed him proudly on our mom’s front porch. We’ve also dressed him up for holidays.

You may not want your own Percival Weatherby, but there’s something for pretty much everyone at this gigantic store.

That just leaves the actual plants.

I’m not much help there, but the good people at local nurseries like Horn Seed Company (1409 Northwest Expressway; 842-6607) and TLC (105 W. Memorial; 751-0630) surely can help.

photo Christy White, co-owner of Wilshire Garden Market, relaxes with a butterfly print pillow in a hanging chair.

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