By: Carolyn Tomlin
While driving around West Tennessee, I’ve noticed numerous gardeners are turning their creativity into garden art. Gardening in small places, or containers, has been around for thousands of years. Seniors may have down-sized to smaller yards or apartments and no longer need large expanses of space for gardening. A balcony, a deck, or even an area that is paved near your door makes a welcoming spot for a container. In recent years, both men and women have added gardening to their list of hobbies during retirement.
Creative gardeners see containers in unusual objects. Yard sales, flea market finds, estate sales…even throw-a-ways from the side of the road can be turned into one-of-a-kind garden container. For example, a rusted wheelbarrow had seen better days and was no longer a valuable tool. Thrown out on a neighbor’s trash, I saw its potential. Perhaps the worn hole in the bottom was one reason for it being discarded. However as a gardener, this was a perfect addition to a Southern Folk Art Garden. Sanded down to remove the rust and airing up the flat tire was the beginning. Spraying the wheelbarrow a soft yellow and the wooden handles blue, the object was ready for planting.
Tips for Success When Using Unusual Containers
All containers need drainage and this wheelbarrow came with a ready-made rusted-out hole. With this essential problem solved, the container was ready to plant.
If planting directly in the container, throw some small pebbles on the bottom to improve drainage. Use a good quality potting soil. Purchase transplants from a local nursery or divide annuals or perennials from your garden. Share the left-overs with a friend.
If using the container to hold a variety of plants, add several inches of pine straw to cover large, individual pots. I prefer this method as you can change the composition for seasonal appeal.
Having a wheel and handles, a wheelbarrow makes a flexible container and can be moved to different locations in your yard. If you’re planning a party, simply roll the planter to a new site.
Keep in mind sun/shade, moisture level, bloom time, height/width growth when combining several plants in one location.
Thomas Jefferson, our third United States President was known as an avid gardener. Jefferson said, “When I’m in my garden, I’m a young man again.” It’s true! Those who garden spend time in the fresh air and sunshine. You’re exercising the entire body as you pull, stoop, bend, lift and drag. But most important, you can spend time in prayer with God as you pull weeds and till the soil.
Whimsical container gardening is rewarding, inexpensive, and requires a small amount of time. Fill a wheelbarrow or another original container near your front door as a way to welcome family and friends.
Carolyn Tomlin knows that some of the best days of life are spent in the garden. She contributes to numerous newspapers and magazines.