Get gardening, vintage style

1st July 2014 - 14:22

H&A blogger Sarah-Jane Hosegood runs the weekly Twitter vintage networking event #vintagefindhour. In her blog for H&A she’ll be writing about her most recent finds, fair experiences and tales of the interesting folk she meets along the way. This month an urban garden gives her some off-the-wall ideas...

I am always on the lookout for vintage inspiration. How people are repurposing vintage pieces, what trends are emerging... And with so many ideas out there, I’d love to share a recent discovery. Even if you don’t have green fingers, this can only inspire the gardener in you.

There’s a townhouse front garden I have often admired in passing and on each occasion I am utterly enchanted by its quirky appeal: a kind of other worldly Alice in Wonderland garden experience.

The centrepiece is a grand Edwardian sideboard with an aged mirror (right). Not something you might expect to find in a small front garden. Painted in a shabby chic style, which over time has weathered to create a stunning paint effect, it is crowned by a stern Queen Victoria bust. On the shelves are a sweet model of a sailing ship and a bronze sculpture to complete the eclectic mix.

Nearby, a rustic Victorian pine table houses a large copper tub with a selection of terracotta planters underneath, while a vintage garden fork leans against the fence. There’s a vintage sack truck repurposed into a pot stand bursting with flowers at this time of year and, between the shrubs further along, two wooden mannequin hands clasp some iron railings.

A large clock gazes down on bright red iron chairs placed around an aged trestle table and a Roman bust admires its reflection in a rusty mirror (below) next to pots of lavender.

Seeing this garden got me thinking more about seeking out finds for the garden. Galvanised watering cans, buckets and tubs have become popular garden features over the last few years and, aside from their obvious uses, they make excellent planters, especially those with rusty holes allowing the water to drain.

Another way to reincarnate watering cans is to turn them into quirky hanging baskets. Chain them up, plant them with compost and soon you will have floral displays cascading out of the spout.

Salvage yards, antiques centres and flea markets are stacked with interesting finds with which to decorate your garden. Try Kingsettle Antiques in Shaftesbury, Dorset, for a particularly good selection.

Indeed, beyond the run of normal gardenalia, it’s amazing what you can do with other odd bits you find. Hang shabby doors on walls, place potted plants on a stepladder, make a teapot into a small fountain, hang teacups from strings or simply plant up crates and wheelbarrows.

We have a small yet pretty courtyard garden that I have sprinkled with a few vintage pieces – and what a difference it makes. It can be a challenge to get creative in a limited garden space but adding some well-chosen retro and upcycled items is an easy way to do it.

Even if you only have a window box, you could reuse an old wooden crate and fill it with herbs. Hey presto! Design, style and function all in one.

They say that gardeners are among the happiest of us all, with gardens offering a sense of escape and calm. I really do believe that the possessions we choose to surround ourselves with can exude a positive effect so, for me, the appeal of vintage items in combination with pretty plants can only be a good thing.

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