Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
July, 2009
Regional Report

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These unlikely trellises are made from steel chairs sunk into the garden bed.

Salvage as Garden Sculpture

I've gone to art fairs for years and coveted some of the expensive garden sculpture, knowing I'd probably never purchase. It always gives me ideas, and I've become pretty creative at producing my own bits of art. I don't mean welding, but rather scavenging. In these days of the "Recycle-Reuse" mantra, I feel pretty good about figuring out how I can get second uses out of things that would normally be discarded.

Old Wooden Gates
Years ago, my husband bought two old curved wooden gates at an estate sale for ten dollars simply because he liked the lines. They've since been used at three different houses but were sitting in the garage since we have all the gates we need. Unable to part with them, I mounted them as a piece of sculpture. They look like a set of beautiful country gates tucked in the shrub border, even though they lead nowhere. I moved a clematis and an old-fashioned prairie rose next to them, and these gates make a perfect decorative trellis.

Assess Before Tossing
If you go into an annual purge mode as I do, try to reassess anything you are getting rid of for use in the garden. An old wrought iron gate could be mounted in the garden for an elegant pea trellis. Discarded copper piping laced together with copper wire can make a stylish tuteur for a morning glory. A simple copper tub or broken pot makes a beautiful fountain with the addition of a liner, an inexpensive pump, and a few water plants.

Most Unlikely Trellises
I have four old steel-framed chairs that have elegant lines, but have been impossible to make comfortable because the seats are too low. Instead of hauling them to the curb, we used them as garden decoration. We sunk the legs in the dirt behind a row of hostas, and the elegant chair backs make a beautiful sculptural statement. It's certainly something that no one else has.

Garden Center Throw-Away Piles
Another easy way to find unusual sculptural pieces is to haunt the garden centers in fall. Check the back areas where they toss things they plan to discard, and you might find all kinds of odds and ends to enhance your garden, usually for next to no cost. A broken birdbath can make a butterfly watering spot when put on the ground and filled with damp sand. A bird bath pedestal without the bowl can become a perch for a gazing ball or simply an architectural statement without doing anything to it.

So, before you toss, think about ornamenting your garden. It's very rewarding to re-tool, re-designate, or re-design.

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