When a thunderstorm ripped through the area a little over two months ago, a few tree branches came down right along with the downpour of rain.
"There was a good-size limb from a cedar tree, about a foot across, that fell in a cemetery," said Ann Blalock of Harlem.
As she studied the makeup of the limb, Ann noticed that "it looked kind of twisted from years of being in the wind." Looking a bit closer, Blalock observed something unique about its form.
"It looked like an alligator without a head or tail," she said.
Certain it would make a nice bench in her garden, Blalock persuaded her husband, Tom, to snap up the piece. Tom made quick work converting the structure to a seat, giving them an ideal spot to enjoy the lantanas, begonias and other plants in their yard.
Tom is well aware that his wife has a knack for seeing things for more than what they appear.
"I have the willingness and Ann has the imagination," he said.
This was not the couple's first effort at adding a rustic structure to their garden.
"For the longest, I wanted an arbor for a climbing hydrangea that I planted three years ago," Ann said.
Once again using the materials provided by nature, Tom went to work and crafted an arbor that they both greatly enjoy.
"It looks so wonderful when it's all put together," he said. "It's very appealing to the landscape."
For each of their projects, the Blalocks have used cedar wood.
"We've found it's rot-resistant and doesn't deteriorate like many other woods do," Ann said.
And making use out of something that appears to be useless makes the final product that much more rewarding.
"It's nice to reuse something that could have easily gone to the landfill," Tom said.
Ann says she never knows when an idea will strike her or what plant will sprout some new inspiration.
"I just wait for the moment to be right," she said.
And as far as making those ideas come to life, Ann is happy to have a determined and reliable partner.
"Sometimes, I think it drives Tom crazy," she said. "He wants to just cut a two by two, but it just doesn't work that way. It's a different process, because nothing is square, so you have to make compensations."
"We just enjoy doing something different," Tom said.
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