Funky Garden Junk

All the plants popping up have me wanting to get out and accessorize the garden. But, accessorizing comes a little later, in my gardening opinion, though now is a great time to see the bones of  the garden space, and thus, a great time to look for places for garden sculpture … garden anchors.

auger and rose Garden Drama
An old, rusted auger and yellow climbing rose.

I’m a big fan of funky, junky pieces in the garden space. They create a sense of the unexpected, and their often dilapidated states, lend themselves to a natural setting. Also, they can usually be found for a song, with some cleverness.

cultivator blades garden drama
Cultivator blades add to morning glories.

Almost any patina finish will do, and with that said, I think that is the secret to making junk garden sculpture work in the landscape. Go for a single color in tone or finish. All rust is great, as well as other mottled metal finishes. You can also make almost any strange piece work by painting it all black.

cistern pump Garden Drama
A cistern pump from the farm turns functional once again in a container water garden.

A few other pointers to make funky junk work in the garden:

  • Surrounding plants must be in their prime. If junk sculpture is perched amongst waning foliage, it all just looks like a garden graveyard.
  • Make the pieces secure. Set junk pieces in Quickcrete or secure with rebar or other supporting structures to make them look permanent.
lobelia in milk can Garden Drama
A milk can gives home to Lobelia ‘Royal Blue’ with clematis ‘Niobe’ nearby.
  • Give it a backdrop. Any piece that is placed against a fence, wall, or hedge will look in place. It helps the eye make sense of the vista. Surround a piece in the middle of a bed with a field (or pool) of the same flowers.
verbena bonariensis and circle
The graphic circle on the back fence is the bottom support ring from a rotted oak whiskey barrel. Verbena bonariensis, in the foreground, is a prolific reseeder and a stunner in the late summer garden.

People often ask me where to get fun pieces for the garden. First I tell them, make friends with a farmer. Old farmsites are filled with cool cast-offs. Check out thrift stores, antique shops, garage sales, auctions, as well as dumpsters, and alleys for other’s trash. But don’t overlook what you may already have in your garage or basement. Anything with an interesting shape or form can find a home in the garden … and be dramatic.

picket fence garden drama
This panel from a long departed picket fence serves to contain the compost pile, while adding charm and whimsy to the garden.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Terri Devich says:

    Another excellent post! I love the auger!!! I’ve often stifled my creativity by pursuing decorating balance or “perfection.” I’ve really tried to loosen that up when I work in the garden and your photos punctuate why… it’s through thoughtful planning and then letting mother nature loose to bring natural beauty to your space. Your ideas are inspiring. Thanks!

  2. Wendy Brewin says:

    There’s a lot of food for thought in your post – am always trying to think of ways of adding sculpture to the garden without spending a fortune! What do you do with yours in the winter when the foliage all dies back? do you move it around the garden? Also, my garden was a dumping ground before I moved in a few years ago, and I still dig up odd bits of metal and quite a bit of glass – any suggestions as to what I could do creatively with the glass pieces? its not mirrored glass, just glass from bottles I think.

  3. aubrey says:

    LOVE IT! I feel I found a kindred spirit when it comes to gardening! I have old gears hanging on my fence and I am inspired by your ideas!

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