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Using Antiques In The Garden

The objects can be left with their natural patina or painted.

We all have artifacts and older items that we keep around, partly for sentimental reasons, partly because they are often a link to our past, and often, simply because we cannot throw something away that might someday come in handy. Some gardeners have taken to using these items in the landscape. It is not uncommon to see old gears, wagon wheels or old farm implement seats used as objects of interest in country gardens.

In such a garden a set of wagon wheels could be positioned in the back of a flower bed or incorporated into shrubbery and/or flowers at the end of the lane to welcome visitors to the farm. Old farm implement seats and ancient cast iron heat registers and grates make unique artifacts to be placed within plantings, their intricate patterns a focal point in themselves. The objects can be left with their natural patina or painted.

An old copper boiler, used decades ago by women on laundry day when they were filled with water, homemade soap and the white clothes that were boiled all night to make them bright white, can be used in the garden. It can serve as a miniature pond, perhaps with a small-handled pump attached through which the water is routed to make it appear as if the water is actually being pumped out of a cistern and not being recirculated back into the boiler. By using a few bricks on which to sit the pots, a couple of water plants can be added to complete the picture, with perhaps a floating plant, such as water hyacinth.

Old cream separators are often positioned in rural gardens, the bowls overflowing with flowers. Sometimes just the bowl itself is used as a unique planter. Old wooden chairs have been painted and

then stencilled to create “garden art.” They could be placed in the garden, holding a container of flowers. If there is a protected area, an old school desk or a well-used kitchen cupboard can be placed there to serve as storage, maybe to hold all the items necessary for a well-equipped potting shed.

Other decades-old artifacts that can be used in the garden include old metal bedsteads. These can be painted a muted colour to blend into the garden, or a vibrant colour to act as a focal point. Cream cans, often holding pots of flowers or with trailing plants cascading down their lengths, old washtubs, even old garden implements such as those pulled by horses can be incorporated into the landscape. Old architectural objects also can be used as decorative objects in the garden. Old wooden doors – again, perhaps painted and/or stencilled, old wooden window frames – minus the glass, and parts of old staircases have all been seen gracing gardens.

When using such objects, it is wise to not overdo it. Use the articles sparingly. If you have a multitude of items they could be rotated. That way your garden will not appear “overdone” and cluttered, and this will allow you to change displays periodically during the summer.

– Albert Parsons writes from Minnedosa, Manitoba

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