Sculpture in the Garden

Thanks for joining us this week at Plant Exchange Blog where we share about plants of the Northern Plains and people who grow them. Lots of topics to enjoy here.

On a hot summer day, what if you had a backyard respite with lots of shade and original sculptures to enjoy as yard art?

Roger Huntley is a plasterer by trade. He has done restorative plaster at the Capitol building in Pierre, South Dakota. He volunteers on the Mead building restoration in Yankton, and has done restorative statuary work in one of the local cemeteries.

He and his wife Marilyn hosted their yard in the Missouri Valley Master Gardener Yard and Garden Tour held in June, 2016. Their yard was featured in an article for the Yankton Press & Dakotan newspaper.

Within Huntleys’ backyard privacy fence is a sensory retreat that includes sound of water over stones in their pond and music of birds, motion of koi darting under lily pads, fragrance of roses, coolness of dappled shade from their stately locust tree, and sight of red, yellow and orange flowers and Roger’s sculptures.

“Every day when it’s nice out, we sit outside and enjoy the birds and squirrels,” Marilyn said. Their two-person lounger with cup holders for their favorite refreshments is positioned by the pond. Night lighting among vines on their fence, on Roger’s cast bronze fish at the pond, and on his sculptures, extend their evening enjoyment.


“Buffalo Medicine Man” and “Captives” sculptures are displayed on the either side of their yard. The pieces were selected to appear in previous years among Yankton’s RiverWalk sculptures.  His “Spirit Horse” appears at 3rd St. and Capital in this year’s RiverWalk. Roger constructed the stands for the Native American theme pieces in his yard. Roger is part Dakota Sioux.


“My grandfather was born on a reservation,” Roger said. “There was a time when telling about Indian heritage wasn’t O.K.” His roots entitled him to use authentic pipestone for ceremonial peace pipes he carved and displayed with other artists through Yankton Area Arts. Now he often presents talks for schools on Native American Day.

“Scott Luken took me under his wing,” he said. “I have no art training. He gave me a piece of alabaster to try.” Roger likes to work with driftwood or found wood and see what his artistic vision can carve from it.  His bronze fish “Escape” at the pond, came from such wood.  Marilyn assists Roger at presentations. Her ear appears in several carvings after Roger took photographs to help him with its shape. Granddaughter Jaidan’s knees photo helped Roger in shaping the kneeling woman in “Captives.”


“Roger often picks flowers and places them in the (captive) other’s arms.

“This is where Roger works,” she said. It’s an open-air shade tent with carving tools on shelves. Sun filters through an old fashioned climbing rose beside the tent.

“Two years ago Roger dug out a piece from the plant out front and here it is now,” she said. The rose branch is at eye level.

“I don’t consider myself a gardener, but I love flowers,” she said. She credits NatureScaping Designs, a local landscape business with the pond and landscaping. Marilyn’s hanging baskets of bright annuals and other plant beds highlight the yard.

“Roger knows that (I love flowers) and he brings them in. I almost always have fresh flowers in the living room.”

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