Antiques in the Garden – Part 1

The weather is warming up and that means I’m starting to think about the garden. Even though we have a small space I find it very satisfying to dig in the dirt. I’m a pretty easy-going gardener. If something works, great. If not, oh well. Dig it out and try something else. I educate myself through the internet and books here and there, but my most important go-to expert is my mother. She’s an amazing gardener and with the help of my dad she cultivates a number of vegetable and flower gardens. My mom’s advice for the novice gardener is pretty straight forward: It takes five years to establish a perennial garden, so patience is key. Plant a mix of foliage, colours and heights to create interest. Most of all, enjoy the process and understand that gardens change so trying to create a static “perfect” garden is silly and frustrating. It’s one of those journey and not the destination things.

Gardening is quite the popular hobby these days, and along with it the desire to create outdoor “rooms”. Gliding chairs, sectional sofas, fire pits, elegant lighting and even rugs are now common elements in the outdoor living space. As we attempt to include more decoration in our outdoors, antiques find a new home. Many antiques are durable enough to grace the outdoors year round, especially industrial or architectural pieces. I looked around my parent’s garden and found many antiques that work perfectly amidst the flowers. I took a lot of pictures so I’m going to break it up into two blog posts.

The first item I noticed in the garden was this vintage plant stand made out of chain. The paint is wearing off, which I quite like, but you could easily spray paint a metal object like this if you wanted. I love the idea of using a plant stand for a birdhouse too. This stand creates a nice tall focal point in the middle of the yard:

Near the plant stand are two large concrete urns or planters. These are from the Victorian period, and I love the classic shape and weathering on them.  They look softer because of their age. A nice thing about planters is that you can change the plants inside them whenever you wish to suit the season.

Another item in the antique concrete category are the two balls that sit near the entrance of the garden. I think the moss and speckled surface of the concrete is quite lovely. These may have perched on the top of a stone fence at one time, perhaps flanking the gate to a grand estate.

These items are wonderful but they take up ground space. What if you are like me and have to make every inch count? Well, you can still use antique items on the walls of your outdoor space. Check out what I found on the back fence:

It’s a piece of gingerbread trim from a house. When old houses are renovated or torn down, architectural elements like this are sometimes thrown out. Thankfully there are many people who salvage these items and repurpose them. In this case, trim that decorated a house for a hundred years finds an excellent second life as a backdrop in the garden.

Along another section of the fence, I found these two antique grates. These durable cast iron beauties were probably used over heating vents.

Finally, this selection of interesting shapes were mounted on the storage shed. The wooden rectangular piece is another architectural remnant, perhaps from a house but I’m not sure. The wooden “X’s are even more mysterious! I had to ask my dad what they were. Any guesses? They’re used in fishing to wind up the nets. I think originally there were rods in each arm (you can see the little holes), connecting two “X” pieces together, and the net would wind up between them. I searched for more information or images of these things but without luck. If you know anything please share because I’m curious!

So that does it for part one! I love my parent’s garden and there’s so much to see. The next part of the tour will feature giant locomotive wrenches and a set of doors that may have once belonged to former US President Taft. I’ll post that soon. Until then, I have some weeding to do 🙂 Enjoy the weather!

One response

  1. Excellent New Collector entry on an interesting new subject. I agree that the garden is a great place to spend quality time. What’s also great is that if you keep your eyes open you can glean some pretty cool stuff for free. We found the roof peak architectural detail put out for the garbage. I look forward to the second installment, and BTW I stand behind the President Taft story.

    cheers,
    Shadflyguy

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