When you wish upon a plant

Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Captured in greenery, this Kokopelli's flute-playing chases away the winter and welcomes the spring. This is one of several topiary creations by Francisco Cuanba, a relative of one of the servers at Sunrise Restaurant in Cassville. The whimsical creations offer a glimpse into childhood storybook characters as well as modern-day cartoons and cultural icons. Democrat photo/Hays

I've never quite understood how someone can take a bit of chicken wire, a few wooden stakes, and some special green plants to create a display of fanciful creatures and popular characters. The closest I've ever come has been a chia pet and sadly that experiment never quite really succeeded.

Topiary is an ancient art form where one creates "living sculptures." Plants are trained to assume various shapes and a mundane area can become an exciting journey with the addition of just a few "plants."

Take for example the work that adorns the narrow green space surrounding the Sunrise Restaurant located where the roads meet in Cassville. Barely wide enough to accommodate a lawn mower, a child's world of imagination literally comes alive in front of your eyes.

Francisco Cuanba, a relative of one of the employees at Sunrise Restaurant in Cassville, carefully tends to ET-- the Extra Terrestrial topiary in front of the building. Cuanba maintains all of the whimsical shrubbery surreounding the restaurant. Democrat photo/Kerry Hays

Stuck at the stoplight coming into town from the south? Lose whatever distraction has captured your attention and take the moment to look ahead -- and down. Standing right there is ET pointing to the sky in all his extraterrestrial glory. I've had to resist the urge to pull in the parking lot and give him my cell phone.

Standing next to ET is SpongeBob Square pants, identifiable by shape and protruding nose. Alas, his trademark yellow is now green, which makes him a bit less objectionable.

The lights changed and you've turned left headed toward your destination with single-minded purpose. Is that Mother Goose you've spied, and who's that riding on her back? Next up a duck looks straight into your window perched atop a donkey and finally Humpty Dumpty stands at the end of the block without his famous wall and defiantly in one piece.

As you glance down the block, you note that even more creations are vying for your attention. Turning sharply, and safely, you wave at Minnie and cheer the tortoise on -- for the hare is nowhere in sight. There stands the flute player playing joyfully to the sky. You see lions, and tigers, but sadly no bears.

You turn the last corner and note your final stop. A star to look upon and make a wish, for the vision of one man has carried us back to a time when life was magical and dreams really did come true.

Meanwhile for me there's a new Duck Dynasty chia pet that's got my attention. I may just give it another try.

The topiary works at the Sunrise Restaurant in Cassville are the creations of Francisco Cuanba, a relative of one of the restaurant's servers. He cares for them with Geppetto-like devotion to add a bit of sunshine to our everyday lives.

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