Small Recycled Planter

I’ve always been partial to salvaged metal pieces used as garden art.  I’ve seen old farm implements, culvert pipes, tools, gears, and wheels–just to name a few–used as sculpture or as containers in gardens (sometimes in very upscale gardens), and I usually like the way these pieces look.

So early yesterday morning, I decided to take a slightly different route while walking my dogs. Altering my path by just one block led me to find something I like a lot.

In short, I stumbled upon part of a gutter’s downspout in the road. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Really, you got all excited about a piece of gutter?”

Well, yes.  ~Grin.~

In the past, I’ve saved gutter parts from the aluminum gutters installed at my former house. Those parts pretty much sat untouched in the shed for years.  I was sure I might need them someday, so I never threw them away.  Turns out I never used them for anything, and they stayed in the shed when I sold the house.  Maybe the new owner had the guts to throw them in the rubbish bin?  Or maybe, if she was the creative sort, she made something out of them?  I’ll never know.

So why now, when I’ve never used gutter pieces for any project, would I want a piece of gutter?

Answer:  Probably because this piece of gutter was absolutely cool.  It’s made of copper and has a wonderful patina; the kind of patina that takes years to appear naturally.

Although I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with it, you can be sure this metal scrap came home with me.

After lightly cleaning the gutter piece at home, I wasn’t happy that someone had cut the downspout off on the diagonal. I thought it ruined it.  However, as it turned out, that slanted cut and even the fact that it’s a bit uneven adds character and, in my opinion, gives it a jaunty look.  Judge for yourself in the photos below.

Because I didn’t want the gutter piece sitting around my house collecting dust for months, I came up with a quick solution. I made it into a planter, and it took me all of 45 minutes.



In the box where I store my wire, was a short piece of copper tubing that went to an old space heater. I’d recently contemplated throwing the tubing away.–SO glad I didn’t!

IMG_1675 (2)

The copper tubing became a handle and fortunately for me, I had a bit of copper wire to attach the handle.  (The copper wire will eventually oxidize to a brown color.)  I used all of this, along with a small piece of perforated aluminum sheet metal, to make a hanging planter.


Above: Scrap of perforated sheet metal.

I think the planter is cute, and I plan to put a succulent or possibly a small hanging plant in it. Possible locations for hanging it are either on the fence or beneath the deck railing.


Above: Perforated sheet metal wedged inside of gutter to hold soil.

If my homemade planter isn’t your style, that’s okay.  We all have different tastes.

For other ideas using metal in your garden (salvaged or otherwise), feel free to look at the following links (some are blog posts from other gardeners):

Hope your day is a good one!


New Life for a Throw-Away Statue

In early April, someone placed a small statue of a woman holding a platter by the curb.  I looked closely at the statue and saw it was in extremely poor condition so I picked up the iron t-post beside it and left the statue there. Incidentally, I used the iron t-post to put up a temporary fence for my dogs to keep them out of my new planting area.—It was a useful find.

The following day (also the day before garbage pick-up), I saw the statue again as I walked my dogs.  It was obvious someone else had handled her for she had been moved.  I looked at her again. She wasn’t exactly my style, and it would take a lot of work to make her whole, but something about her grabbed at me so later that evening, I went back in my car to pick her up.


Before:  If you look at the platter or whatever it is she’s holding up, you can see the broken piece sitting inside of it. I stood her up to take the photo.


Another before photo.  If you look at the back of her base, you can see it loses it’s curved shape because a large piece is missing. Although she looks light green, she’s actually tan in these photos.

The statue lay on her side on my backyard deck until a week ago when I finally decided to work on her. (You can only pull so many weeds before you go crazy, you know? Or maybe I’ve passed that point!)  Anyway, the statue’s problems were multiple:

#1:  A 4” X 1-1/2” piece of her base had broken off completely. Luckily, I picked up the broken piece when I picked her up. Other big chips were missing from around her base as well.

#2:  The underside of the base, itself, was uneven because it had eroded over the years. This made her wobbly.  (I believe she is made of plaster of Paris, which isn’t exactly the most durable substance in the world.)

#3: Everywhere her paint was missing, bright white showed through, and she had significant cracks over her entire body. These aren’t evident in the before photos, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I decided I did not want to spend any money on her repair so I would ONLY use supplies I had on hand.  In other words, I would not buy a $17.00 quart of paint for her, but would use paint I’d already purchased and frankly, my choices were limited.  Also, I’m not a particularly patient person when it comes to these kinds of projects, and believe me, this one took patience.

I started by gluing the broken piece back into place. I used a high-quality glue, which takes 24 hours to cure.  Next, I added mortar to the underside of her base to make it level and less prone to tipping over. I also mortared over the crack where I’d glued the broken piece.

Once the mortar dried overnight, I grabbed some old dark red epoxy paint meant to seal concrete garage floors and painted the bottom of the base so it could not absorb water should it get wet. This, too, had to dry overnight.

Since I happened to have two round pieces of pressure treated wood lying around (from a contractor’s mistake), I decided it would be a good idea to glue her base to one of these.  The wood would give the statue more height and also keep the plaster of Paris base from deteriorating quickly since the wood would prevent it from being in direct contact with the ground.

The wooden round had been primed previously, but it still needed painting.  I looked at my exterior paints on hand: white, deep red, barn red, red-orange, maroon, two shades of blue, black, and green….

I liked the statue’s original tan color, but I didn’t have tan and to make her weather-resistant she needed a thick coat of paint.  So, I picked the best of the inappropriate colors, green.  (Since I have quite a few small plastic bottles of craft paint I decided I could tone down the green with various craft paint browns dabbed over it.)

Thus, the lovely tan statue and wooden round became garish green.  Truth be told, the green isn’t bad, it was just never meant for a statue.

When the green paint dried, I applied various browns and the look was “okay.” Next, I grabbed some clear spray sealer and sprayed everything twice.

And lastly, I glued the statue to the wooden round and left it on the deck to cure, once again, overnight.

Mother Nature, however, threw a fit.  It rained.  Not only did it rain, it poured buckets.  In less than 24 hours, we received 4 inches of rain and guess what?  The glue didn’t cure.

I started over by scraping off the glue and letting everything dry.  Once dry, I touched up the paint and when it dried, I glued the statue to the wooden round one more time.  This time, I put a plastic bag over the statue in case of any unexpected downpours.  (Go ahead and rain, I dare you!)

And now, I’ve set a Creeping Jenny in a thrift store pot on the statue’s platter.  I haven’t decided yet whether to call her “The Green Grecian Girl from Link”  or “The Lovely Link Lady”. (Link Street is where I found her.)

Is she perfect?  No.  I’m not either.  I did the best I could with what I had and my abilities.



Close up of face & pot.  I realize I need to center the pot a bit.

Finally, there is a sweet end-note to all of this.

A friend told me the woman who had lived in the house where I found this statue passed away.  This wasn’t the case.  A few weeks ago, I met the woman’s 30-year old grandson who said his grandmother wasn’t dead at all. Instead, his family put grandma who was 95 y/o, into a nursing home because of her dementia.   The grandson cleaned out the house, and he was the one who placed the statue out for the garbage pick-up.

I’d like to think grandma would be pleased her statue ended up at my house and not at the local dump.

Oh, and JUST when I’d finished her, another project immediately presented itself across the street from my house. (I need more projects like I need five more dogs!)

My neighbor put the chair below out at the curb with his garbage.  It’s absolutely solid.  Only the wicker wrap needs to be glued back into place and a bit of black spray paint needs to be applied.  Don’t you think this chair would make the perfect place for a potted fern or a BIG basket of blooming begonias?




Orphaned Garden Tuteurs & other Nonsense


ABOVE:  Open area where I want to place a large arbor like this one.

It’s Tuesday, but feels like a Sunday. I’m not sure why.

When I looked at the weather forecast last night, I noted we were slated for rain at 8 am this morning.  We’ve had rain on and off for the last three days. As often as not, the forecasters are wrong, but I posted a sticky note in my brain because my dogs don’t like rain. I determined I would get them outside to do their business before 8 o’clock.

The dog pack (3, including Elly-Belly-Munchy-Mouth) and I were outside by 7:50 am.  The dogs were sniffing while I casually looked at plants with winter burn that need pruning and tall grass that could use a shave, and then without warning the sky’s water hose turned on full-blast. We all ran inside.  Almost as soon as the dogs and I came in, the rain stopped, the sun emerged, and the birds renewed their song.  Lovely, I thought, this rain is temporary, and I will go out and prune today. But no, that isn’t in my personal forecast.

Somebody (God, karma, nature) knows that if the weather is nice, I will be outside.  I will turn a blind-eye to the dust and dog hair inside the house and go into the garden where I live most of the time. (Currently, two dog hair dust-bunnies sit like garden focal points to either side of my hallway.)

I do think gardening is a drug. I admit I’m an addict.

Anyway, important house duties such as re-stocking my finished bathroom can wait, right?   (Will post on the *new* bathroom soon.)

I ventured outside again about 20 minutes later and nature, like a stern parent, reprimanded me, “What did I tell you?  Get inside the house right this minute and do your chores!” For a second time it poured no sooner than my foot hit the deck outside the back door.  So here I am blogging.  Ha!  I’m still a kid at heart and know how to procrastinate like any good child.

Now to the heart of this post:

While walking the dogs yesterday, I ran across a metal shelving unit someone threw out.  As soon as I saw it, I thought it resembled a rose tuteur.  (Don’t get me started on the difference between a tuteur, obelisk, and a garden tower.)


ABOVE:  Shelving unit needs a good fairy godmother to transform it.

Do you see the similarity to a tuteur in this shelving unit or is it just me?  The tuteur stands a bit over 6 ft tall. When I lifted the tuteur (we’ll call it a tuteur, even if that’s not what you see in it), I noticed it was quite heavy.  Apparently, the glass shelves inside the unit had broken, and this was the reason it was hauled to the street.

Do I need a tuteur-obelisk-garden tower?  Well, uh, no.  Was I going to pick it up?  You bet.

I cut the walk short and hurried home.

When I saw my neighbor in his truck across the street, I inquired if he might help pick the sucker up.  He agreed and said he’d seen the piece himself and intended to go back to get it but forgot.  In his eyes, even though he gardens, it was still a shelving unit. He mentioned he could make new shelves from wood to replace the glass.  I offered the unit to him right then since he’d seen it first, but he declined.


Now it’s in my backyard.  It needs to be painted (black) to keep it from rusting and to minimize its former shelf identity.  It needs a place to live.  It needs a vine.

I’ve looked around to see where it might best fit.  Maybe in place of the green pot you see below?  I’ll need to move that pot about 12 feet over if that’s the case.


Note – There is a potted trailing verbena that fits inside the brown chimney pot you see at right. I’ve not put it back yet after over-wintering it in another part of the yard.

I have a vine; one that I’ve been saving to put on a big-butt arbor. (You won’t find the term “big-butt arbor” in any online sales descriptions for arbors, by the way.)  I shouldn’t buy a big-butt arbor right now because my money needs to pay taxes and hospitals.  I need to wait.  Maybe I’ll buy one after doing a few pet-sitting jobs….As the trite saying goes, gardens aren’t built in a day.

So perhaps my confederate jasmine vine can grow up this tuteur instead of a fancy arbor and then onto the wood fence.  What do you think?


ABOVE:   Confederate jasmine Trachelospermum jasminoides purchased half price at end of last year and overwintered in a pot.

Who was that American TV landscape painter who always talked about “happy little accidents”?  Oh ya, it was Bob Ross.  Well,  I guess you could say this shelving unit was a happy accident.

So I’m curious (this is a gardener’s Rorschach Test), do you see a tuteur-obelisk-garden tower or a shelving unit?  Only checking to see if I’m crazy!








Making Outdoor Cushion Covers Cheaply

It was hot outside today.  My thermometer read 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 C), which is warm for February in Texas.  However, I’m not complaining.  The dry, sunny weather allowed me to work outside in the garden for most of the day, which also helped me to avoid cleaning the house.  Yippee!  I planted a clematis and did some clipping of winter-killed foliage.

Remember those two outdoor wood chairs I recently stained?  I needed to cover their cushions.

My goal is to create an inviting outdoor seating area without going into credit card debt.  If purchased online, cushion/seat covers for my chairs are $35-$40 per cover, and I have four cushions. That price doesn’t include shipping either.  I can’t purchase the covers locally because of their large size (26” x 26”).

The history behind the previous seat covers is that they were eaten by ants.  I stored them in metal garbage cans behind a shed.  The cans kept the cushions dry, but didn’t keep the ants out. Munch-munch!

Last week I visited one of our local thrift stores.  Proceeds from this particular store fund the needs of battered women and the victims of violence.  The store, itself, is situated in an old church building.  Should have taken a photo of it, but I didn’t.

Back to the thrift store:  Someone had just donated two huge boxes of fabric so I rummaged through both boxes and managed to find some heavy-duty orange yardage, but honestly, the color didn’t appeal to me nor did the idea of hand-stitching another four covers.

The truth is I can’t sew on a sewing machine.  It’s almost a genetic defect.  Why?

My great-grandfather was a tailor so he did all the family’s sewing.  As a consequence, none of his three children learned to sew and neither did his grandchildren or his great-grandchildren (me).   I am able to sew well by hand, but am clueless when it come to a sewing machine.  While this may seem like a handicap, it’s not the end of the world.

I decided against the orange fabric, but continued to look around the store.  This is when I came across three woven Mexican blankets priced at $3 each.  Could they be used to cover the cushions?



After washing & drying all of them, I wrapped one blanket around each cushion and pinned the blankets from underneath using my adult daughter’s former diaper/nappy pins.–I knew I’d find another use for those someday!

I admit the blankets need some adjusting and the cushions need to be flattened, but I don’t think they look too shabby.  Because I was only able to purchase three blankets, not four, I bought a fourth one online for about $13 and that includes shipping. It hasn’t arrived yet.

For four seat covers, the total cost was around $23.  Now then, if ants, squirrels, birds, dogs or people eat them, well, it’s just not that big of a deal.

Note – I plan to overhaul this area so the green and white glider likely may  get moved..


I like trellises in the garden.  Maybe that’s because I like vines.

I use the term “trellis” loosely to include anything that can hold a vine upright.  Guess that definition could include trees, right?

I have one arbor and one trellis that I purchased.  (Sorry, didn’t photograph either for this post.)  As with most garden “structures” when you buy these things, they aren’t cheap.

Since moving here two years ago, I’ve begun to make my own trellises and have generally been pleased.  Some are uglier than others (especially those in the veggie patch), but they all serve their purpose.  Most of my homemade trellises were made from stuff on-hand or found items.

Why am I showing them to you?  Because they might spark some trellis-making on your end.  Most are simple, and most were pretty inexpensive to create.

I tried my hand at growing cucumbers on this trellis (below) made from baby bed springs and steel posts. Someone threw out the baby bed, and I picked up its springs.  While the cucumbers weren’t a success, I still like this trellis, which I sprayed with a variety of paints left over from other projects.


Baby Bed Trellis

The tee-pee or “green bean” trellis below was created from left-over metal poles (electrical conduit? plumbing pipes?) discarded in the yard at this house.  The paint I used was also left-over from painting a chair and table.  The bottle caps were all found when I was walking my dogs last summer.  (Lots of people drink wine/wine coolers around here!) The bottle on top contained Sangria that I drank.)—Not sure how much I like the bottle  as a finial.   Note – I didn’t have the strength to pound the center pole into the ground completely, which is why it sticks up as far as it does.   I used this trellis to grow rattlesnake beans.  Looked good with the beans on it. Cost – completely free.



Green Bean Trellis

I’ve not grown anything on the trellis below yet.  The roof-turbine-vent-thingy was a throw-away from someone’s remodel found at the street curb.  Even though it looked like a throw-away, I asked the homeowner if I could have it before I grabbed it. It sits on an old upside-down galvanized bucket, which in turn sits on a upside-down clay pot. The finial on top ($6.00) was one I purchased for my old house and never used.  All of the metal poles, except two (2 for $10), were left-overs found in the backyard of this house.  The chain is new ($10).  I admit, this trellis needs a little tweaking.  Maybe I’ll use it to grow cantaloupes or a grape vine?


Chain-chain-chain Trellis

The “water-works” trellis (below) is made from a $4.00 purchase of ironwork from the dump store outside of Austin, Texas. (You read that correctly.  I purchased the ironwork at the city dump.) I didn’t do anything with this piece of ironwork till I moved here.  I already had the water sprayers.  I started collecting them when they were relatively cheap ($3 to $5/each).  The two faucets were originally from the bathroom sink at my former house.–One of them broke and couldn’t be fixed, but I didn’t throw them out.  Bought the round colorful valve handles for $1. each and there’s a stretch of left-over plumber’s tape in there somewhere.  Last year, I grew Scarlett runner beans on this trellis.  This year, the hope is the sweet pea seeds and the small clematis I planted will cover it.



Water Trellis

This wire netting (shown below), purchased at Pandora’s Box (antique-plant-junk store), totaled $12.  Not sure what the netting’s true purpose was.  I hung cheap mirrors from the Dollar Store all over it, plus a stenciled hand mirror that was losing its reflection.  I’m using this trellis to grow a red honeysuckle. The original goal was to have only the mirrors peak through the vine to create the illusion that you could see through the fence.


Wire Netting Trellis

This small piece of loop wire fencing below was thrown away during a “bulk item throw-away” day.  Very simple trellis.  I’m growing another red honeysuckle on it.


Loop Wire Fencing Trellis

Purchased this piece of iron fencing below for $10. at an estate sale.  I spray-painted it black.  This one has a native honeysuckle growing on it.  (Long story as to why I have so many honeysuckles.)


Iron Fence Trellis

That’s it.  Some of these are more utilitarian than artful, but considering how much a store-bought trellis costs along with the fact that I had fun making these, and that once a vine covers a trellis you don’t see it much, I think these are a success.  If nothing else, they are unique.

I encourage you to have fun and make your own trellises. If you do, send me a photo!

Recycling/Re-purposing & other Fancy Words for Re-Use

Since most of my plants are going dormant, I thought recycled garden art would be a good topic to discuss.

Whether influenced by my Dutch DNA or because I was poor in my younger years, I try to conserve my resources.  This doesn’t just impact the garden. I’ve handled my resources carefully long before it became popular in the recent economic recession (use of cloth grocery bags, grey water, cloth rags & newspaper instead of paper towels, homemade products, etc.).

Truthfully, I find a lot of people including my adult children could care less about reusing something.  That’s a pity because so many things are wasted, and their money is spent needlessly.  I can’t change the world though.  I can only account for myself.

Anyway, aside from reusing mundane stuff, I have a lot of recycled creative “stuff” in my garden.

No one I know sets out to make a garden ugly.  Some recycled “garden art” is amazing.  I’ve seen lots of lovely recycled garden art.  I’ve also seen things that frankly I wasn’t too crazy about. That’s okay.  We won’t all like the same thing, just as individuals differed widely on their vote in the presidential race.

However, on a positive note, even ugly recycled garden art isn’t made in China!  And that matters to me.

I have several utilitarian garden items made from recycled materials.  I did not take photos of some pieces such as the metal wind-turbine teepee trellis or the multi-colored baby bed springs trellis both located in my veggie patch.  I’m sure at some point, I’ll photograph them, but these items aren’t at the apex of lovely.

I do, however, want to show you what I did with a roof vent and a bunch of left-over plumbing materials.  I fully realize you may think all of this is ugly.

First a riddle:  You move in to your new old house and find a 7’ piece old metal plumbing pipe and 4 copper flex lines (the kind that go to hot water heaters) in a closet.

On hand, you have a bunch of hardware cloth, old bandanas, old cotton garden gloves, and an old rickety rake.

What would you do with all of that?  Throw it away?  Let the plumber cart off the copper flex lines? (He certainly wanted to.)

Since I’d installed a 20’ x 30’ fenced-in area for growing vegetables, I decided to use these items to create a scarecrow of sorts…Call me Dr. Frankenstein.

My scarecrow is actually my “Lady of the Garden” because she has no straw and doesn’t resemble a typical scarecrow.  Maybe that makes her Ms. Frankenstein of the Garden?

I used the flex lines with metal threaded pipe connectors for her arms and neck.  The metal plumbing pipe attached to a metal T connector became her skeleton upon which I hung her hardware cloth torso complete with bosoms. I realize it’s probably hard to envision this from my description.

When the body was assembled, I went to the thrift store to purchase her clothing and then to Etsy, an online store, to purchase her face, which is made of fired clay.  Her face was the most expensive part of this endeavor.

Well, it’s been a year since I made my Lady of the Garden. Most of us change our clothing more than once every 12 months.  And in the Lady’s case, her clothing, which was beaten up by the sun and rain, was falling apart.  Since I didn’t want a naked lady in my veggie patch, I made a thrift store crawl last week to find my lady some new apparel.

I bought her a hat, dress, and gave her new bandanas.  She still needs some tweaking (tighten the dress, change out one or two bandanas), but I’m fairly pleased.  Making her was a lot of fun.  img_0223


I almost threw the galvanized metal roof vent you see below away.  Frankly, it was ugly, and it may still be UGLY. ~Smile ~ Copper gas piping removed from the house sat around under a tree for over a year. I decided to put the two together and make a hanging planter.

The vent is painted with bronze metallic spray paint left over from a project.  To keep the soil from falling out where the plants live, I used hardware cloth screwed to the back of the vent. Pieces of broken clay pottery were placed in front of the hardware cloth to further prevent soil from falling out.  The roof vent hangs from a towel rack that had seen better days.  I sprayed it black. Still need to paint the screw tops black and touch up the curtain hangers.  The square facing might look better if it were trimmed to be smaller.  Also perhaps I should paint drops dripping from the holes in the facing?


Certainly not beautiful is the old iron arm from a garden bench given to me by a friend.  The original bench and the other matching iron arm are long gone.  I have the arm hung on a tree in a part of the yard that isn’t a focal point for anything.  As you can see, it holds a garden hose.


Yes, that IS a dog’s tail you see above.


(The above photo was posted previously. Plants are going dormant.)

Finally, the terracotta urn attached to the fence post on the left was a throw-away. I literally picked it up from a ditch off of the side of the road. It was broken perfectly almost as if it were made to hang on the fence.  I like it.

One rule I hold fast to when recycling items for the garden is they can’t be valuable antiques.  I’ve seen beautiful antiques put out in the garden, and it shoots a hole in my heart every time.  Everything I recycle for the garden is not historically valuable or at least it isn’t at this moment.  Also, not everything is worth recycling.

More than anything, I want my garden to be about the plants and not things so I need make sure I adhere to this rule.