Buffalo Garden DIY garden art

Keeping you posted…

I'm making garden totems to sell at our local garden art sale this summer.

I’m making garden totems to sell at our local garden art sale this summer.

The first question I get, is “How much?” so I’ll answer that first! They’ll come in three sizes, and three price points (plus tax!).

  • Small Totem Measures 5′ 6″ from the base to the top of the finial, $130.00
  • Medium Totem Measures 6′ 6″ from base to top of the finial, $230.00
  • Large Totem measures 8′ from base to the top of the finial, $330.00

What they are

I paint each one personally. Wherever you see paint, it has at least three coats. Each one has routed bands cut into the poles, as well as embellishments like wood ornaments nailed and glued onto the pole.

Your garden needs more whimsy!

All poles use the same palette of colors – so if more than one is purchased, they will family together and have some visual consistency.

The totems are hand painted on 4″ x 4″ southern yellow pine posts. They are painted with acrylic-based exterior house paints. All are protected with UV-protecting polyurethane varnish to help prevent fading and to ensure a long life.

Each totem comes with a spike base for installation.

What they are not

They are not mass-produced vinyl wraps on a PVC plastic pole.

They provide a nice blast of color when you garden isn’t!

How best to use them in your garden

They add a great splash of color as an accent or a centerpiece. They look best (I think) in groups of three, in differing heights, spaced somewhat evenly.

Single poles look great too, especially in smaller gardens or in a garden vignette. In a large garden, one pole on its own could be overwhelmed by everything else. Multiple totems make a statement.

Placing them at the far end of a garden will draw attention and provides a destination leading visitors through a garden. Placing them where they can be seen from a home window is very nice – they do add a great splash of color – especially in winter months.

Installing & care

Each totem comes with a 12-gauge steel, 4″ x 4″ column base ground spike, with self-locking nuts, for installation. The ground spike is just under 36″ long – most of it a spike that gets pounded into the ground. You’re going to need a sledge hammer and a short piece of 4″x4″ to place in the holder while you pound.

Each Medium- and Large-sized totem has a strong graphic pattern and a more intricate “organic” pattern.

Depending on your soil type, they may be sunk easily. Some clay-y soils may take some work (find a young person!), or you may decide they don’t have to be pounded in all the way, especially if the base is hidden in or behind plants. The bases, once pounded in and secure, are solid, and will easily support the largest totem.

You can push and pull to get them “plumb” as you drive them into the ground. The only tools you will need to install are a sledge hammer to drive the spike into the ground and a level for plumbing it up.

The exterior-grade house paints and marine-grade polyurethane will keep your totem looking good for years. They can stay out all winter – however – to keep their vivid color as long as possible, I recommend:

  • Placing them in a shaded area
  • Store them indoors in the winter months


Great for filling those tall garden gaps!

The prices listed above are the Family & Friends and Airline discounts – you’re all my friends! (If I don’t like you, I’ll charge double!) There are no discounts if you purchase more than one.

I won’t sell any in advance of the Buffalo Style Garden Art Sale on Saturday & Sunday, June 25 & 26, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on the grounds of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. I need the inventory – and I want you to attend the garden art sale! There will be around 50 vendors of garden art participating.

If you’re interested after that last weekend of June, I will start making more, but I don’t have an idea of turn-around time yet for any produced after June. It would be before the end of summer for sure. I may be able to do some slightly customized ones – give me some of your house paint (that’s sitting in your garage) and I can maybe incorporate your own house’s DNA into the design.

Jim Charlier is an advertising designer/photographer/crafter with a serious gardening problem. He's co-written a garden design book featuring the funky, quirky and fun gardens by the gardeners of Buffalo titled "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" (BuffaloStyleGardens.com); he writes a long-standing garden blog (ArtofGardening.org); led the largest garden tour in America, Garden Walk Buffalo; has written for, or provided photography for dozens of magazines and books; has made presentations and participated in panel discussions on garden design and garden tourism nationally and internationally.

9 comments on “Keeping you posted…

  1. MJ Szydlowski

    Love these, Jim! And you know how well they will work in my garden! I’m thinking about a set…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love these and can’t live without at LEAST one! Ok, maybe 2. Oh alright, THREE!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tracy Amadori

    I would be interested in one!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jim ~
    I would love at least one but I live on Cape Cod🐋 Could you figure out how to send one? Or many! Everyone that follows you is going to want one and I know they don’t all live in your area!
    They’re beautiful💙💜❤️🧡💚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Joanne Tanner

    I am interested in a small totem pole. Love the ones with the painted squigglies


  6. Carolyn

    I’m coming on Saturday!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. breese4697

    Love these…can afford a small one…geometrics call my name! See you saturday.


  8. Hi Jim! My husband and I got to the art show at 10:40am and you were all sold out of the small poles I was so disappointed. I asked you if I could place an order and you said you would make more in the Fall. Can I please get on the list for a small Todem Pole? We have a beautiful backyard that we take great pride of with a Daisy wild flower garden and I know one of your Todem poles would make it complete. Can you please send me an email and let me know if I can please get on your list? 🙏🏻🙏🏻

    Thanks Jim!


  9. Hi Jim! I left a comment but don’t see if posted so leaving another! I went to the Buffalo Garden show was there by 10:40am today (Sat) specifically to get one of your Todem poles and you didn’t have any small ones left and the one medium you didn’t have a sold sign on wasn’t what I was looking for color wise. I was so disappointed my husband even tried to see if we could place an order 😪. Can you please put me on your waiting list for the next round of Todem poles please? 🙏🏻🙏🏻❤️ We have a beautiful backyard with lots of flower bed and landscaping which my husband and I love to do. We have a huge Daisy flower bed and I would love a Todem pole to make the bed pop with color! Please Jim I hope we will keep me in mind for your next round of poles. I’ll pay in advance, please let me know. We live right in Lancaster (NY). Thank you! Lynn


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