Saturday, 2 February 2013

The Recycled Gardener.

Last years spring show of a recycled container.
I'm what you might call, a bit jammy. Whilst I've not much in the way of garden space at the new cosy cottage, I have more than my fair share in the various places I work. So I can keep my hand in, and like today, spend an hour or two after my 'shift' pottering about with plants in our local composting and recycling garden at work. In line with all things exciting to promote recycling, at my 'main' job we try and find all sorts of way of using up containers and materials to inspire folks to recycle more. The case in hand above a lovely 'alpine' garden in a lovely  recycled container, in this case an old 'bidet'. I think its quite lovely. And, we sell 'recycled' plants, pots and seeds too.
Old bidet, new planter - old sinks, bidets and toilets make 'interesting' recycled garden planters.
Setting off these alpines and some 'Tete-a-tete' miniature daffodils quite nicely.
Daffodil 'Tete-a-Tete' in a recycled planter
Very cheerful and quite lovely recycling too. Given we're a community based recycling charity maybe you'll not be surprised that all the plants here were donations, given by those supporting our local project - so whilst we had many to sell on in pots (also donated) we like to demonstrate what they might look like in situ. A perfect combination of early spring flowering and early summer alpines (alpine strawberries, lady's mantle, thrift) and a nice purple toad flax giving a bit of height at the back later in the summer.  In the winter though, its a different story, whilst the recycled bidet looks great - there's not much in the way of inspired planting going on.
Recycled bidet container garden, perfect for alpines. Currently sleeping. Pop back in March.
At the moment there's not much in the way of colour going on - I think I must try and find something nice to pop in there, perhaps a wee primula. I'd hoped the daffies would be up by now, but alas they are very conspicuous by their absence! (And, I've looked...) Unlike the impatient alliums (Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation') who are up and nosing about in the remnants of the curly parsley and dropped nasturtium seeds.
Alliums and parsley ready for the off.
I'm sorry chaps but you're up a bit early. As for the daffies - well being the impatient type I am, I investigated some of the old pots of them beside the planter. And, sure enough - they're there but not up yet........still sleeping lazy monkeys. I didn't disturb them for long, they're tucked back up in a recycled pot for now.
I should really let sleeping daffodils lie in peace.
And so, here's a thought - for all us gardeners out there about to tackle dusty compost bags, sheds full of pot infestations which might attack us at any moment. For those of us with far too many seeds and far too many herbaceous perennials ready to split up......I'm proud to say our local community recycling centre accepts plants, pots, seeds, trays, compost bags, bulbs, vegetables, shrubs, trees and any gardening equipment. What about your local places?
I know that we'll soon be putting out an appeal for spring cleaning gardeners to think about us, and rather than compost extra plants, or put all those pots to the skip - why not hand them in here (or at a local place where you live). Many community groups can find the labour to split up plants, pot up strays and sift through seeds, making these available to the public and perhaps inspiring a few with wacky planters, or offering advice and engaging with the public in fun and exciting ways.
Who knows what might happen - like here - bidets turned into elegant alpine planters. Or one man band drums -
An old, worn one man band drumkit - full of holes, the perfect candidate for a bit of garden recycling
.............. turned into a lovely large container!
Recycled planter from an old drum/one man band.
If you're lucky to have a local community recycling centre like ours, or a community garden - why not pop along and see what they're up to. From self watering strawberries in old milk containers, garlic growing in old barrels or....the perfect small veggie patch....
Recycled planting containers.....
You never know you might just get inspired to look at recycling and reuse in a whole new way..... a novel one we were told about was turning untreated pallets turned into veggie gardens - perfect for a smaller space and limits weeding! So we had a bash at that too.....
Recycled pallet veggie garden.
Maybe, just maybe, you might get inspired, or think, its a bit whacky for my own garden, but that's an interesting use of recycling bottles for path edges......excellent for curved edges.

Recycled bottles and wood chip for those curvy paths.......

Or tin cans for path edges with recycled hedge woodchip.........
Recycled tins and woodchip for path edging.
So when tidying out the garden shed/greenhouse/seed box - why not think of a local charity or recycling place that might make good use of your extras. You never know what kind of garden mad person might be helping out at your local site (or if they don't have one why not volunteer?). Or if you find a group who knows what inspiring things they're getting up to and how you might be able to help support their work with something as small as a half opened packet of seeds or some old strawberry runners. Those of us who are more conventional, might just pick up a bargain boot load of pots, window boxes or containers if we need them, or let us find a home for our own surplus!
Gardeners are excellent recyclers and often quite inspired to think out the box when using resources......even making viking scarecrows out of old tins.....this one lives at my 'other' job, beside my 'other' work garden. Like I said, I'm jammy - two jobs, two extra gardens to play in.
So when tidying up during these months when the daffies are still sleeping, perhaps you can venture along to your local community group and have a nose at what they're up to.......there might be a home for all those pots you've been hoarding or a bit of inspiration waiting for you.
Like I say, I'm jammy I get to work in a garden at work too, means a lot to me when folks offer plants and seeds, pots and support. And, its always nice to hear folks saying, 'Oh I'd never thought about doing that.....' when they see what we're up to.
Time for me to stop blethering and leave you all to it.
Thanks for taking the time to listen to my waffles, happy gardening and recycling if you manage to find a local group to give a few bits too.  You might just find a 'recycled' gardener to have a yarn to, too and perhaps a few interesting tips along the way.
Our local recycling charity has a website here and a pretty active facebook presence here. Feel free to pop by, or 'like' us and see what new and exciting things we'll be getting up to in Spring.


  1. Interesting to find out about life on Orkney. A former colleague Alan..... live on your island I will surprise him with my local knowledge from your blog
    Thanks for you thoughtful comment on my own blog
    Roger Brook

    1. Nice to meet you virtually Roger - I wonder who Alan works for - small place here!

      I liked your blog, very interesting in use of materials! Look forward to more of it.

  2. Some great ideas for combining your gardening with recycling, wish we had something like that here.

    1. Dreamer I'm sure there are some transitions groups near you that might do similar or you can inspire them with your own ingenuity. And, thanks we've a great team here of ingenious volunteers!

  3. I love that pallet garden, I might have to think about that! And I just happen to have a bidet, a loo and a loo cistern lying around, I was thinking about freecycling them, but maybe I should plant them up instead! I can't imagine sending any pots to a community recycling centre though, I never have enough, but I will be passing plants on to the "Cemaes in Bloom" group and will no doubt see them out and about.

    1. OH Janet you're just the kind of customer I like, in need of pots! I think novel planting ideas do have their place - perhaps not in the front lawn but a herb trough at a back door or a shed corner gives a good home to something a bit quirky to bring a smile. Nice to hear you're passing on plants - make you all warm and fuzzy inside knowing they'll not be composted. I can't bear a thrown away plant and i know you're the same!

  4. Great recycling ideas there. So far this year, I've recycled 3 polystrene boxes into alpine troughs and I've a few aluminium tins waiting for the better weather.
    My daffs are very slow but there are alliums showing a good 2 inches of growth!! Strange.
    Wish there was a community recycling place near me.

    1. Angie that sounds great too. Love alpine troughs of different materials. Daffs are slow! I wonder if there's a local group you'd find via Zero Waste organisations? Or a transitions group? Goodluck!

  5. Some brilliant creations, am intrigued by the 'self watering strawberries' though

    1. Gill self watering strawbs are half a milk container placed into the bottom of it - the hole where the milk use to come out sucks up moisture from the lower end it sits in. If that makes any sense. It catches the rain and helps to water it........

  6. Loving the edging ideas! I'm only just catching up with your blog, sorry - I've just realised you stopped posting updates on facebook, oops, my bad. Great to have a backlog of your writing to read, tho :)

    1. Ah Jan no pressure at all - and I hope I don't put you to sleep. I do sometimes put up on facebook but feel my family might disown me - they hear enough of my rambles already! Nice to see you too!