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SHARING SECRETS: 'Found' Objects

Edited by Dayle Cheever.

Do you use “found” objects in your garden to show off your plants? Tell us what you use and how you use it.

Tammy Schwab: I have a little piggy, well not so little, that I found in a garage sale in Arizona in 2006. He has traveled from Arizona to California and now resides in Florida. His intended use was a fire pit or BBQ, but he was quickly repurposed to a planter when he came home with me. When we first moved to San Diego, he even survived an earthquake and only bounced around the patio but remained on his stand, unbroken. He is quite heavy, probably around 100 pounds empty. I just adore my pig!

Cathy Tylka: One “found object” I have is the frame of an old metal bench that holds up my Rosa banksiae. The other is a portion of an old charcoal grill, held up on one side by two logs, which is the main location for my Brugmansia. The last is a mama mourning dove in my Echeveria.

Andrew Wilson: Objects found include fallen branches with unusual shapes. I fashion some of these to create “hortisculptures.”

Rebecca Long: I am the queen of yard art with found objects! An old copper water fountain from the ‘70s (someone’s shop class project), a wire-framed girl figurine is now a succulent creation…I could go on and on!

Connie Beck: My favorite relic from a boring childhood in Kansas is a large iron Conestoga wheel band that my father found near the Santa Fe Trail. These wheels were abandoned along the trail and the wood parts have usually rotted away to nothing. What is left is a nicely rusted heavy iron ring that is about three feet in diameter. I’ve hung it under my deck, where I have an old iron peg that I occasionally use for whacking it. It sends a very satisfying BOING out into the canyon.

Barbara Dunn: Shells, boulders, and glass stones.

Susi Torre-Bueno: My most recent use of found objects in the garden is to wash off plastic knives and use them to label rows of veggie seeds.

Gerald D. Stewart: My mother and aunt collected rocks. Lots of rocks, from the 1950s on, every time they went somewhere. Kind of like Lucille Ball in the Long Yellow Trailer. When my aunt moved to Texas to live near her daughter, she gave me lots of her rocks. When I converted the family home to a rental, I brought Mom’s rocks to my house. They are used as edging along walkways. My aunt also collected a lot of driftwood. It sits here and there around the garden. Not exactly found, but I plan to use the glass coke bottles from Mexico that are silk-screened, or however they get the permanent paint on them (others have clear adhesive plastic labels that rot off), to make little occasional tables for next to seating in the garden, as a place to put drinks, etc. I’ll get rounds of tempered glass and using clear 50-year silicon, glue it all together.

Candace Kohl: I would not call my garden art “found objects,” although in a sense they are. Mostly they are things I have come across that I think would look nice in the garden. I have a number of amethyst geodes out on display among the flowers. Do NOT do this! The sunlight bleaches the purple to a very pale lavender. They still look good though. Other things include small sculptures in memory of my cats, a large glass insulator from a high voltage power line, and a broken mosaic table top used as a patio insert. I also have some manzanita bushes that have been dying by inches over many years. The dead branches are now home for a colony of Tillandsia and look very nice.

Suzy MacGillivray: Here I am again. I just cannot contain my secrets for too long. I’m not sure what really constitutes “found.” I think of it as something that is free, but also might have a different use than its original purpose. It is absolutely FREE soil amendment—the leftover coffee grounds available at many Starbucks locations. Just use ¼ of this to ¾ of your dirt/soil and see how it enriches your dirt by greatly enhancing potassium, magnesium, and copper. Contrary to what many believe, the pH factor is only a smidgen acidic, and it does not keep your plants up all night. Just dig it in six inches or so… worms love it, too.

Sue Fouquette: There are several examples of found “art” in our yard. Many years ago, Charley was at Hilti, the tool store, in Clairemont during a rock drilling demonstration and he told the employees, “When you guys are through with that, I’ll take it.” He was referring to a round boulder, maybe 400 pounds, that was pockmarked all over, and some holes still had nuts and bolts in them. Eventually, he brought it home in his pick-up and he and a neighbor worked it into the back yard. I planted the one-inch or so holes with tiny succulents in soil. They have spread and bloomed and are a conversation piece. Also, on a patio table is a big basket that I fill with shells I’ve found, placing the most interesting shapes and patterns on the top. I store them during the winter season and fill the basket with unusual and colorful rocks. And my latest mosaic idea? Our house plaster, stucco, concrete driveway, and concrete patio have big expansion cracks (due to our soil being Diablo clay). I pressed wine corks into the patio cracks, both horizontally and vertically. I hope it gives people a party-time feeling. Needless to say, I have saved enough corks over the years to last the rest of my life.

Dayle Cheever: I have a bad habit of moving items from inside my house to my yard. I have bowls, figurines, rustic art, and my sons’ school art projects scattered around my yard. I have an old birdcage holding up a Pelargonium in my front yard and some ceramic art pieces serving as watering stations for our neighborhood bird population. I have an odd collection of unusual rocks scattered around my planted areas and various broken ceramic pots as decorative items. I am not sure I can be categorized as a hoarder, but when I can, I do like to adaptively reuse items that I am fond of.

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