About Garden Variety Art

Holley Wlodarczyk • independent artist based in Bloomington, MN

Where Home & Habitat Meet

Garden Variety Art began with my growing fascination with native plants and the wildlife they attract and support. Planting just a few Minnesota wildflowers, grasses, trees and shrubs invited a diversity of bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects into my yard. After taking countless photos of these small but critical interactions happening all around me, I realized that native plants were ‘pretty useful things’ and started making images that attempt to express both the beauty and utility of habitat gardens.

This site is designed to share some of those observational photographs, exploring some of the themes and patterns recurrent in my work. As I continue to develop my art I will also include the drawings and book arts projects that they inspire. I’m in the process of creating resource pages for some of my favorite species of wildflowers and the visitors they attract, including plenty of photographs, links to more information, and a few notes on what I’ve learned about them.

Thank you for taking the time to stop and look!

Pretty Useful Things

In addition to image-making, I’ve also embarked upon a small business making archival prints of my photos and artwork, as well as using dye sublimation to print these images on garden signs and quality household and personal items. Check my Etsy site or visit me at one of the pop-up art shops at Taste of Scandinavia in Bloomington for ways to bring the art of habitat gardens into your home!

Your Garden, Your Image

As I’ve connected with other native plant enthusiasts, I’ve enjoyed their photos and paintings of spectacular scenes — large and small. Please let me know if you have a photograph you would like custom printed on aluminum, wood or glass panels, or on any of the products I’m featuring in my shop. It’s a great way to personalize gifts, or enjoy a view of your garden no matter what time of year!


This was one of my most joyous moments wandering around in my yard. A Rattlesnake Master I planted the year before had come up and was beginning to flower. That was exciting enough, but then I noticed this dragonfly come in for a landing on the little spiked, round flowerhead. It perched there for several minutes — enough time for me to run in and get my camera!

And then there’s the flamingo… In another, concurrent academic life, I study the cultural history of suburbia. As the ‘native bird’ of suburban yards since 1958 (with the introduction of Don Featherstone’s original masterpiece), the pink plastic flamingo has been near and dear to me. But I decided to use it as a symbol in this endeavor as well, to illustrate the point that gardening is a cultural activity in a man-made, cultivated landscape, even when said landscape is filled with native plants. While I enjoy spending time out and about in natural areas and wildlife refuges (and indeed, more than a few of my photos were taken there), my main focus has been gardening in a way that incorporates the wildflowers, grasses, shrubs and trees that evolved here, and support the wildlife that evolved with them. My pink plastic companions remind me that while I’m striving to create a more natural garden that functions closer to a natural ecosystem, it is still a garden. That’s not a bad thing, as anyone who read any of Doug Tallamy’s books might well agree. And as I hoped to convey in naming this endeavor Garden Variety Art, my goal is to show, through my art, how beautiful and useful a garden can be when we incorporate the richness of biodiversity in our most common, everyday landscapes.