Turn old in to new to revamp your gardens
- Credit: Archant
Think outside of the box when it comes to garden decor
Your local salvage yard is a great place to start your hunt for those special additions to your garden. You may discover pieces ready to use, such as an antique birdbath, or think out of the box for what can be used to make an array of possibilities – from unusual containers to wacky installations.
Reclaimed items have a wonderful patina, weathered over the years from the outside elements. If it hasn’t any cracks, for instance, then you’ll know it will continue to cope with frosty conditions, which is especially relevant for planters. Check timber items for any rot, look for any manufacturers marks for identification, ask about the material, observe any damage and where possible ascertain if original or a copy. A bit of elbow grease and a splash of paint can transform furniture and sundry items, giving them a new lease of life. Often the quality from early eras is so much better and favourably comparable to the cost of new today. You may discover just what you’re after online, but If possible view in person as it’s a better way of really seeing the scale. Older garden items won’t be in perfect condition, but that’s also the charm. There’s no amount of yoghurt that can give the effect of time spent in the British climate.
At Romsey Reclamation, described by a shopper as ‘a treasure-trove of old goodies’, popular items include railway sleepers for raised beds, mirrors to hang in the garden, saddle stones, old copper pots, original stone troughs, timber trays, benches and chimney pots. Due to covid, appointments are needed and numbers limited, but you’ll have lots of space, time to rummage and advice from staff.
Tom Baker, owner of Top One Salvage in Fareham has kept the yard open for visitors to walk in, but with social distancing and by limiting numbers. “We’ve been very busy with the increased interest of people in their gardens while furloughed or holidaying at home. We sell a lot of railway sleepers, scaffold boards to re-purpose as planters and small garden ornaments, but people also use a lot of unusual things,” he explains. With a mix of originals and copies, you can browse stock that includes galvanized tubs, vintage signs, troughs, birdbaths and reclaimed bricks.
Bargains can also be found in unlikely places, such as charity shops, vintage markets, junk shops and car boot sales; one person’s trash could well be your treasure. Take your time looking around, as it can be quite a hunt to discover treasures hidden under piles or high up on shelves. Items that were originally used for something completely different, from old industrial and agricultural pieces to metal railings or old bed springs, can be re-imagined to containers, supports for climbing plants or sculptures. Let your imagination run free, albeit with a touch of practical thought!
The potential for repurposing items is vast. Old coloured bottles can be pressed into paths, tiny terracotta pots made into pot men, watering cans transformed to fountains. Ideas for containers have to be the most frequent thing people are looking for, from rusty copper boilers and vintage bathtubs to drain pipes and chimney pots. Cut logs, scaffolding planks, old kettledrums, tyres, ladders, crates, dustbins, buckets or tin cans can become planters. Just remember to drill a drainage hole. You could also join the Freecycle network or take a look on other sites, such as Gumtree, Recycle Now, or Freegle to find interesting options.
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If your budget allows and you’re on the look-out for something already finished and ready to use, a wonderful up-scale source is Jardinique in Alton, also only open by appointment and one of the finest places for unique outdoor antiques in the country. Owned by Edward and Sarah Neish, the specialist business is set in converted barns with a showroom and outside large display yard. On their website you’ll find everything from stone troughs, saddle stones, sundry items, to furniture and fountains. On a smaller scale, there are also whimsical upcycled bird nesting boxes made from vintage copper kettles and tea pot birdhouses from £40.
“We have combined two of our passions - antiques and gardens, and stock anything that can adorn a garden, finding items at auctions, trade fairs and from private clients, and then producing the finished item,” explains Edward.
Pay a visit
Romsey, SO51 0GQ
Visits by appointment
Fareham, PO16 9DR
Open Monday to Friday (8 – 4.30)
Alton, GU34 4AP
Visits by appointment