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The Guardians of Lake Wheeler Road

J&C Garden World is one of those places you may have passed several times and wondered what lies inside. Curiosity got the better of me this past weekend, so I stopped by to see the menagerie of exotic animals, pop culture icons, religious figures, and that of ancient history.

More effective than any sign would be, a trio of animals beckons you to pull over at the intersection of Lake Wheeler Road and Centennial Parkway.

Before you get inside the fence to see the selection, you are greeted by some of the most grand of statues.

Contrary to what most people think, the poured-concrete sculptures aren’t produced on site. They are created in locations all over North Carolina. The benefit of the nearby sources is a quick turnaround time from cast to delivery.

J.L. and Connie Pittman opened J&C Garden World 11 years ago in the same location, offering plants as well as garden statues. Once the Farmer’s Market relocated to its current location about a block away, the owners shifted away from plants to statues exclusively.

There isn’t a a web site and they don’t offer shipping. All business is done on site. That hasn’t stopped out of state demand, though. One customer in New York arranged for someone locally to pick up a cast Yoda (above) via Craigslist.

Most of the inventory is poured conrete statues, but you can find reflective garden globes as well.

Even if you’re not in the market for a statue, it’s well worth your time to stop by on a weekend. Not only will some of the creatures and icons bring a smile to your face, but it’s also fun to contemplate the odd juxtaposition of some of the sculptures.

Although related items are grouped together, there are plenty of odd couples.

Then you have the somewhat unexplainable. These unlikeliest of home and garden decorations have come to be some of the most lucrative for the owners. One particular item that the owners have a hard time keeping stocked is the garden zombie – consisting of three separate pieces that resemble a zombie emerging from the ground.

There is a certain tongue-in-cheek reaction to some of the statues, and there’s no doubt the artists are aware of that. You can find hidden easter eggs in some, such as the hieroglyphics above. Notice any that don’t quite belong?

Selecting which pieces to carry is certainly more art than science. Some of the most unexpected of pieces will sell several in a week or two, while others have sat for years. If there is a specific character or animal you’re looking for, they will work with you to try and locate one.

Prices range from twenty dollars for the smaller items up to several hundred for the larger and more detailed pieces. They are open during normal business hours seven days a week.

These make great gifts too. In case you’re curious, the garden zombies are at the top of my list.

J&C Garden World
1711 Lake Wheeler Road
(919) 833-0544

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