Many gardeners deal with bugs in their flowers.

Erma Earls has flowers in her Bug.

Flower power and Volkswagen Beetles were calling cards of the hip¬pie movement of the 1960s. Both are on display today in the 3600 block of Telegraph Road, courtesy of Earls, an Arnold great-grandmother.

For two years, Earls, 78, has been festooning the shell of a bright yellow 1974 Beetle in her side yard with mass quantities of flowers. The car is likely the largest flower planter in Jefferson County, and one of the most unusual.

Its second life began when her son, Kevin, was working on an automotive project and needed a VW for parts.

When he finished, only the shell of the then-bright red Bug remained.

“He was going to get rid of it, but I told him I would take it and do something with it,” Erma said.

But what?

“I’m on Facebook all the time and saw one that was similar,” she said.

Her quest continued at a flea market where Erma spotted a gallon of base paint for sale. The price? One dollar.


“I took it to a paint store to see if I could get it tinted yellow. The man did it – for free,” she said, still amazed at her good fortune.

Kevin used a paint sprayer and transformed the red shell into the canary yellow roadside attraction it is today.

In its first year, Erma planted all real flowers in her Bug, providing a delicious buffet for neighborhood deer.

“They didn’t eat them all,” she said. “They’d pick and choose.”

Armed with a better understanding of what the deer would leave alone, Erma used a strategic mix of real and artificial flowers in Year Two.

“From the road, people can’t tell the difference,” she said.

But people don’t always stay on the road. Some pull in for a closer look, drawn like bees to a tempting batch of flowers. Those who do get an eyeful.

Blossoms burst from the side win¬dows, cascading past the door handles. Blossoms emerge from what used to be a windshield and spill onto the hood. There are daisies in the passenger seat, rhodo¬dendrons creeping out a rear window and periwinkles perched on the back bumper.

Dava Earls, Erma’s daughter, esti¬mates that 10 to 15 people stop and knock on their door each month to ask if they can look at the flowery Bug.

“We’ve had 10 professional photog¬raphers come by and one wedding party asking if they could pose for pictures,” Dava said.

In their heyday, Bugs served as fam¬ily cars, dune buggies and Hippiemobiles. They were versatile that way.

Erma’s still is.

As it did last winter, the VW will un¬dergo a transformation in a few months. There will be lights and ornaments and, yes, kiddies.

“Last year we even had Santa,” Erma said.

That figures. When your main garden is in a Bug, it makes more sense to Ho Ho Ho rather than hoe hoe hoe.