Posts Tagged ‘Garden Style’

Into The Garden With Antiques

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Accessories for Decorating the Garden

Accessories for Decorating the Garden


Bringing antiques into the garden can really make your landscaping fun, unique and eye catching. I look at my landscaping as an outdoor room, the sky is the ceiling, the trees a canopy, my groundcover or hardscape the flooring and garden borders, stonewalls, fences, hedges define the space as walls. Just like in interior design, carefully chosen and placed accessories add the final “wow” factor. In the years I taught landscape design, at the end of the course I would schedule one of the final classes on creating an outdoor room. This class was the most fun, you can get really creative, break all the rules and do your own unique thing. The work is done, the gardens designed and planted, the patio and deck done, all that is needed is the finishing touches, just as jewelry makes the outfit a real fashion statement, garden accessories add the interest or focal point that grabs the eyes’s attention.
I am going to pass over the common items, the urns, the planters, the normal patio and yard furniture and focus on the redesign of antique items to use in the garden. All kinds of unusual items can be used to hold plants, from old barrels and wooden kegs, galvanized washtubs, wheelbarrows, old pottery, the list is endless. The important thing is to make sure the item will provide drainage, this may entail drilling some holes in the item. Stones can be added to the bottom of the container to help with drainage but I use styrofoam packing peanuts, they are lightweight as well as providing drainage. I am constantly moving my potted containers, taking advantage of the ones that are at peak performance moving them into the spotlight and rearranging so the ones that are past prime or their flowers are inbetween blooms or ones that are needing a little TLC are not center stage. I even place some in the garden where it needs a burst of color if the perennials are not giving me a show at a particular time. Plus using the peanuts saves on the amount of potting soil needed to fill the containers. So if an item can hold enough dirt for a healthy plant it can be a container in the garden.
Old teapots, pitchers, mason jars, watering cans can make interesting vases to hold cut flowers to place on your outdoor tables. Anything that can hold water and withstand the weather can be used. Great way to use a china or glass piece that may have a chip or 2 and not welcome in your diningroom anymore, give it a 2nd chance as an outdoor accessory. Using these former inside pieces makes quite a statement outside.
I have an old galvanized bathtub, it belonged to my grandmother from the turn of the century, it was lightweight would be brought into the kitchen and placed by the old gas and gas heating stove and filled with hotwater heated on the stove and the bath night would begin for the family. I have now placed this tub in one of my gardens, sunk it down about 6 inches in the soil, and filled it with flowers and for the winter holidays, I fill it with greens. It makes a great planter and has very few weeds to deal with in it. It has been in my garden for almost 20 years now. At my seaside cottage I took 2 big old galvanized washtubs and sunk them into the ground, filled with soil and planted hydrangeas in one and a dwarf alberta spruce in the other. The shrubs are growing happily, because they are in good soil, seaside gardens have poor sandy soil and need a lot of additives to get things to grow. Along with this washtub theme, I found and old galvanized settub or sink, it is divided into 2 sinks inside , each with a drain spigot on the bottom to release the water. It has a wide piece of wood for a cover. This piece as well as providing an interesting accent for my “Washtub Garden” has had many useful purposes, it is great for filling with ice to cool cold drinks for a picnic, I have dragged the hose over to it and filled and washed all kinds of things in it, soaked pots, hooked rugs, cleaned garden tools, cleaned fresh caught fish, stored clams on ice, it is an old fashioned sink, still performing it’s intended uses but also decorating the garden. An added plus it is on wheels, I guess in Grandma’s day it was placed next to the old wringer washer.
Another fun thing I have done both here and at the cottage, is to take an antique chair, that has lost it’s caned seat and placed a big clay pot that fits right in the seat, it’s lips stay above the seat opening so it doesn’t slide down. Fill it with flowers and place in the garden. Another idea is to find a old wooden chair, paint it an interesting color, place in the garden , maybe in the middle of a flower bed, in a place where no human would be tempted to go into the garden to sit but a place for the garden fairies to rest or the chipmunks sun themselves, or the birds can perch on the back of the chair and sing their hearts out.
An old iron bedframe can be a “Garden Bed” I had riped out an area of berry bushes last summer and had a large hole in a section of garden but it was too late to plant new plants in the ground, so I put the bed all together and arranged it in my garden, covered the springs with a piece of dark green painted plywood and filled it with pots of mums. Now that was a garden bed. This year it is now happily redesigned and living on my deck, covered with outdoor cushions and pillows and has a new life as a daybed for relaxing in the shade with a book. I also have just a headboard of an old iron bed and are using that as an interesting back-drop like a piece of fence or garden gate for ivy to grow up and around. I couldn’t find an old garden gate at the time this garden went in so the idea for the iron headboard came to me and I love it. It is now covered with vines and has a whole garden planted around it.
Creat garden rooms, paths leading to little secret alcoves and using atypical pieces of antique furniture in the outdoors can make your space unique. Everyone can go to Home Depot and purchase the everyday variety of garden and patio furniture. But by using the unexpected you can really decorate an outside room. You can paint wooden furniture with a good outdoor paint to try to preserve it or just let it go au natural, chippy paint, bleached out stain, rust all which add to the rustic charm of using less than perfect antiques outside. Their life may be limited because of the elements but your redesigning and reuse has extended their time as they were put out to “pasture” as not being good enough to reside inside any more but they add charm to your outdoor scape.
Old chandeliers can get a new life with candles being placed in the sockets , but remember to hang them carefully when using lighted candles, I even have found some old glass globes to use to protect the candle flame from the wind when lit. Lamps can be de-electrified also and candles used.
Don’t forget about your broken china pieces, don’t throw away the pretty floral pieces and shards they can be used in the garden, mixed in with stones, seashells ect. A mosiac tabletop can be made with the broken pieces and fastened with mortar or grout, the ideas are endless. I have put a few large pieces of broken china that had roses on it as stepping stones in a birdbath for the birds.
These are just a few ideas for using antiques in the garden, your imagination is limitless. get creative with your cast-offs. Remember these are accessories, use as a focal point to make a staement, don’t over due it, let these be little surprise touches here and there. After a few seasons and they have worn to beyond shabby , let your creative self rescue something new and give it a new life in your garden.