Antiques in the Garden – Part 2

Wow. Over three weeks have gone by since my last post! One of the reasons I haven’t posted about antiques in the garden is because I’ve been too busy spending time planting in my garden. That’s ironic or something. Check out my first peony of the season. This was taken a week ago and the whole plant is flowering now:

Peony in bloom

Between the garden, working, spring cleaning and a super fun cracked molar incident, I haven’t been blogging nearly as much as I should. I’ll try to turn that around with this installment of Antiques in the Garden. If you haven’t already, you might want to check out Part 1 for more ideas on how to use antiques & vintage items in your outdoor space.

First upon our return to my parents’ garden is this lovely large stone bowl. This is actually a crucible used for melting glass. It was the years of use that gave the inside of this object its complex blend of colour. It’s hard to see here but the bottom of the crucible has layers of dark green and brown glass. My mom usually keeps some water in the crucible and uses it to house a few floating plants and flowers:

Crucible for Glass

Near the crucible are these two giant iron wrenches (you can see how tall they are compared to the normal shovel leaning next to them). These are a bit of a mystery, but the most popular idea is that they were used on steam locomotives. I guess the wheels on those giant trains required some pretty serious torque!

Big Wrenches

The next object is near and dear to my heart because it reminds me of trips to Biarritz France, near where my mother grew up. It is a segment of antique concrete fence in the form of branches. This object was actually made by the same artisan who crafted some of the similar fence work still found on the beachfront in Biarritz. It was made by a process called sand casting. The process began by first creating the shapes by pressing real branches into sand. Then the wood was removed, wires were added for stability, and concrete was poured into the sand molds. Texture details were added before the concrete hardened. Sand casting is often used in foundries for metal but it also has a long history with concrete. Here is the fence in my parents’ garden:

Concrete Fence

And just to compare here’s a photo I took of the fence in Biarritz. This particular section of fence is probably quite recent, as they replace segments as needed, but many parts are still vintage to at least the 1950s:

Fence in Biarritz, France

What an elegant and whimsical way to add texture to your garden, don’t you think? Here are a few more nice antique and vintage pieces I found around the grounds:

Tin Star

Iron Finial

Iron Post

Now, for the big exciting finale, I’m going to show you the famous President Taft doors:

Shuttered Doors

I love the little duck silhouettes!

Please don’t crowd – there’s room for everyone. Okay, so the story is these green shuttered beauties were once part of a cabin nestled into the scenic countryside of rural Quebec. The cabin was a summer-house for none other than 27th President of the United States William Howard Taft. In the 1990s the cabin was renovated or torn down, and my parents were able to buy these doors on one of their many picking trips to Quebec. They now mark the entry to the compost pile which is admittedly not the most noble of places but makes them very useful nonetheless.

Almost too much excitement for one garden tour right? Oh but there’s more. Not only did my parents get the doors, they also bought an entire small shed from the Taft property. EDIT: Turns out I was wrong! My dad left a comment to explain the origins of the shed. Here is his quote: “I have to clarify that the small Taft “shed” you  illustrate is actually something I made from four Taft shutters (presumable from the same guest house as same color and construction) and a tin shingled top of some birdhouse or something,  Bought on a different trip to Quebec.  I noticed one day that the shutters where the same width as the top sides, and I had a screw gun in my hands so I put it together.  People have had many interesting theories about its use. Ventilated out house, smoke house, threshold to another dimension. It’s good to have theories.” Thanks dad! That’s actually a much more interesting origin story for this unusual piece:

Shed

How about them apples? How bout them somewhat historically interesting apples? And yes, while there is no official certification to prove the President Taft story, my dad says it’s true so that’s good enough for me. Even if it wasn’t true and those Quebec dealers used the pure unadulterated excitement of President Taft to sell these things, they would still be worth the purchase. They are lovely antique objects that are durable, decorative, and still very useful in the garden.

You may now return from the edge of your seats. The garden tour is over! Thanks for coming along and I hope you enjoyed it!

2 responses

  1. Excellent new entry, New Collector. Yes we love to include some things that have fond remembrances attached, or interesting things we find laying around.
    One note on the provenance of the “soon to be famous” Taft doors. They came as a part of a large lot of things we bought from a local fellow, and he told us the story after we had paid and loaded. It was like “nobody is going to believe you when you tell them this, but those came off the Taft estate”. I believe this adds weight to the argument.
    Also, I have to clarify that the small Taft “shed” you illustrate is actually something I made from four Taft shutters (presumable from the same guest house as same color and construction) and a tin shingled top of some birdhouse or something, Bought on a different trip to Quebec. I noticed one day that the shutters where the same width as the top sides, and I had a screw gun in my hands so I put it together. People have had many interesting theories about it’s use. Ventilated out house, smoke house, threshold to another dimension. It’s good to have theories.
    Keep it up. I really enjoy your writing.

    cheers,
    Shadflyguy

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