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Florence’s Rock Garden

When Florence Deeble’s mother asked her daughter to fill in the fish pond in their back yard, she could hardly have imagined the results. The old lady’s fear that children might fall into the water led to a rock garden whose fame has spread beyond Lucas, Kansas, and across the nation. Of course, it’s not the only weird art site in the area—their place was only a short distance from S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden, and Florence had grown up in the early 1900s watching the great man at work on his masterpiece.

But despite Miss Deeble’s early fascination with concrete sculptures, she showed no signs of

following in Dinsmoor’s footsteps until she started pouring the concrete into the pond—and kept going. Before long, the fifty-year-old woman’s concrete creations included stone-inlaid bridges, columns and towers, altars, and cactus plants. The garden showcases places she traveled in the first five decades of her life—including Utah’s Capital Reef National Park and Lucas Lake, and incorporates rocks she brought home from her travels. The garden’s centerpiece is definitely a reproduction of Mount Rushmore with all four of the original’s presidents peeking out of a sheer face of concrete (with Roosevelt peeking out through twisted-wire spectacles).

Florence continued to work on her garden for the last half of her life, almost fifty years, until her death at the age of 99 in 1999. Her home on Fairview Avenue in Lucas is now open to the public as part of the town’s Grassroots Art Center tour, and makes a great side-trip from a visit to Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden. Check them both out together.

Weird Kansas

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