Home My garden Quirky garden recycling and upcycling

Quirky garden recycling and upcycling


Cack-handed gardening DIY

I’ve always had a Heath Robinson approach to making apparatus in the garden.

Fatsia canopy
Daughter dearest reading under the shady ‘canopy’ created by hacking away a huge Fatsia – George photobombing, obviously

My latest idiocy is hacking into a vast Fatsia japonica to make a canopy over the bench – works very well and has freed up some space.

I do recycle everything if I can. If an object is capable of holding soil, then it’s a plant pot.

My old Jelly Belly wellies are home to Sedums, discarded council recycling boxes make substantial vegetable (or tulip) containers.

The blue, 99p stackable boxes from Ikea are big enough to grow tomatoes in – and much cheaper than pots.

The whopping Abyssinian red banana is making a home in an old coal scuttle bought at Tyneside market.

A Funky Laundry shopper housed cucamelons in 2015 and was so successful, I’m using it again – www.funkylaundry.co.uk.

Then there’s the true kitchen sink drama that is my alpine collection – centrepiece – a Belfast sink salvaged from a house demolition.

Freshly-planted Belfast sink with Sempervivum, Delosperma and Saxifraga
Freshly-planted Belfast sink with Sempervivum, Delosperma and Saxifraga

I’ve been collecting old and broken pans and teapots to house my now vast Sempervivum collection. This does, of course, mean drilling holes in the bottom, which has proved tricky. The other half burnt out his drill in the attempt.

A trio of upcycled Belgian fruit baskets bought from Harrogate Autumn Flower Show for a tenner a few years back hold tulips, then geraniums as the seasons change (lined with sturdy bin liners).

To stop an old turf stack from collapsing, I built a framework of dahlia stakes and aluminium posts. I covered this with old potato sacks lashed together with strimmer line (it was all I could find).

The whole thing has been hidden with a bamboo fence – but look beyond and what a state.

Many of you will have seen Monty Don’s hazel coppice on Gardeners’ World – sadly, not many of us have the space for pollarding trees to use for bean poles and supports.

Runner bean supports made out of Phormium flower stems
Runner bean supports made out of Phormium flower stems

I have found a suburban solution – the 8ft flower spikes of New Zealand flax (Phormium) are light but tough as nails. I lash them together to make bean frames.

Other prunings are equally useful – Berberis and roses to keep cats off soil and apple, beech and whitebeam make pea sticks.

Finally, my hard landscaping was done on the cheap – the gravel path edgings are old bricks that were lying around the garden, fired in the Newburn brickworks, Newcastle.

If you’ve got stuff lying around, try to re-use it – lateral thinking gives a garden character.



Previous articleRosehip syrup
Next articleTable top heater magic and Al Fresco Fortnight
Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.