Sneeze, sniffle and shop 

Brave the pollen haze and pretty up your yard


Sure, you can keep your windows closed, dust off your porch furniture every day, pop Claritins like they’re Starlight Mints. But when the pollen gets so thick it forms actual visibility-limiting clouds — well, it’s going to win. Green things are determined to be fruitful and multiply this time of year. Might as well strap on our gas masks and help them along.

Except that takes work, and green things also can be awfully uncooperative in the wrong hands. There is nothing that will tick you off like having your 40 new petunia plants go stem over stamen before the Ben Gay smell fades from your shoulders. So as a less stressful alternative to actually dealing with plants, this week I present Things for the Garden that Will Not Betray You.

Cantrell Gardens (7800 Cantrell) has some great little watering cans for kids, shaped like elephants, pigs, ducks, and — my favorite — a frog prince ($10). There’s also a selection of winged stained glass animals: pull a cord on the bottom, and the wings actually move. Prices range from $25 to $100, and the choices include a parrot, a large dragonfly, winged pigs and other creatures.

On the sale rack: Several shelves of black Oaxacan pottery of various shapes and sizes, 50 percent off; and all garden clogs, 30 percent off.

I’d never been to Botanica Gardens (1601 Rebsamen Park Road) before, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much bigger the store is than it looks from the front. The place is packed, too — with plants, of course, but also with an enormous variety of pots and planters (including some very pretty small white ceramic ones) and decorative items. My top pick here are the art-glass hummingbird feeders ($25). They look like those beautiful hand-blown vases you see in art galleries — vibrant colors, unusual patterns. I also got a laugh out of a collection of whimsically painted clay pots with little poseable legs sticking out from the bottom ($22). Add a geranium, cross the legs jauntily, and you’ve got a fun little plant-person to sit on your kitchen windowsill. And to provide a little ambient lighting, pick up one of the glass flower-shaped votive candle holders ($6). On the sale rack: Orchids, 30 percent off.

If you’re on the north side of the river, head up to Yardbirds (8204 JFK Blvd.) in Sherwood. You can’t go wrong here — it’s a decor store, not a garden center, so nothing’s actually alive. There’s an abundance of stuff to dress up your yard, plus a large selection of bird feeders and bird-themed decorative items. My favorite finds, though, are designed with squirrels in mind. First, the Twirl-A-Squirrel ($49.95): a motorized spinning hook thingy that attaches to just about any bird-feeder. When it senses a squirrel’s weight on the feeder, it starts spinning around, sending the squirrel spiraling off into space. “Hilariously funny!” the box promises — and also that it won’t actually hurt the squirrels. A less expensive (and less guilt-inducing) option is the Squngee ($17), a contraption that lets you attach two ears of dried corn — squirrels love the stuff, apparently — to the bottom of a short bungee cord. The squirrels jump on it, start bouncing around like little stripeless gray Tiggers, and a little bell rings to alert you so you don’t miss any of the action.

Just a couple of other notes: Warren’s Shoes is now open at the Pleasant Ridge Towne Center, and Little Rock Paint and Wallpaper, that wedge of a shop at the intersection of Kavanaugh and Markham, has closed. The building has been sold, but no word yet on what the new owners’ plans are.

Tonight (April 5) is also the monthly First Thursday late-hours shopping night in the Heights and Hillcrest, so take advantage of the nice spring weather, grab your credit cards and go for a stroll.



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