I regularly see many interesting, unusual and sometimes bizarre garden creations in my travels.
Some ideas are simply too unconventional for most people, such as the mosscovered Volkswagen planted in the yard. Or the 1950s gas pump turned into a planter and terrarium. Or the old wood canoe made into a hanging bench. But amongst all the weirdness there are gems of inspiration for the garden that anyone can replicate. Here are a few of the more mainstream but unusual creations to try in your garden.
Repurposing, sometimes called upcycling, has become popular these days and the simplest example of that technique is taking an old wine barrel, bathtub or even a pair of old boots and turning them into a planter for the garden.
Admittedly, I don't think a toilet repurposed as planter is too kosher but the few I have seen look oddly interesting but somewhat out of context.
One of the more unusual repurposed objects I have seen was an old log made into a planter. The log was hollowed out, holes drilled in the bottom for drainage and the cavity in the log was filled with soil and plants. The hollow log planter looked good in the surrounding woodland garden.
Almost any object that will hold soil can be turned into a planter. Decorate it, paint it, or not, and drill holes in the bottom for drainage and plant to your heart's content.
Add colour in the garden by creating or buying bobbles, chimes, flashers, coloured glass panes or spheres. Colourful balls and globes can look cool in the right place by settling them nicely amongst plant foliage. Coloured bobbles that float look great in some ponds. Even the broken pieces of a mirror looked interesting attached to the front of a wood gate that I saw in someone's garden.
Let's not forget to add paint. An old bench made from wood or metal can be instantly transformed into a fashionable garden piece by simply painting it with a bright colour to blend with your existing colour scheme.
A brightly coloured gate, section of fence or even a whole section of the house's wall facing the garden can be transformed to create drama and interest.
Choose bright colours that combine well with your home's paint colour and your plant palette. Don't be afraid to use bright purple, vibrant blue, deep rich reds or any other colour you like.
Ornamentation can also be used effectively in the garden to add interest and colour. There really are no rules to using ornamentation as long as you like it.
One of the coolest garden ornaments I have seen lately is the "penny ball" created by Lisa Mende Design. Mende took an old bowling ball and glued pennies onto it.
The result is an ancientlooking, gladiator-like ball that makes a great conversation piece and puts to good use the soon-to-be-extinct Canadian penny.
Another great idea to add colour in the garden during the day and night involves the use of glow stones. These colourful stones are made from a photoreactive material that absorbs light all day and then slowly releases the light by glowing through the night. These stones come in a range of colours and they can be placed in between pathway stepping stones, in glass jars around the patio or laid en masse along the edge of pathway or glued to structures in the garden, including the side of the house.
Mosaics are becoming increasingly popular in garden design, especially among the do-it-yourself movement.
A mosaic is something consisting of a number of things made of different types, forms, shapes or colors used to create a design that is adhered onto a surface. Mosaic material is any slightly similar or dissimilar material that is colourful or texturally interesting to look at in some way. Some mosaic material examples include old bathroom tiles, glass bottle bottoms, marbles, broken pottery pieces, coloured rocks or whatever captivates you.
The surface that holds the mosaic design could be a bench, walkway, planter, wall, a big rock or any other surface that needs some enhancement.
Old plant containers and stepping stones that need a facelift work especially well for creating new small-scale mosaics. You simply glue on the mosaic pieces of your choice and what is old is new again.
Bigger mosaic projects involving transforming walkways, walls and fences also need some planning before you glue yourself into a mess. The key to a good do-it-yourself garden mosaic is lots of colour, varying shape and size and the use of an unconventional material repurposed to create beauty.
Always remember that individuality is the genesis of creativity, so don't be scared to be different.
Todd Major is a journeyman horticulturist, garden designer, consultant and organic advocate. For advice contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.