Fun with junk and other daydreams

Janice Wells
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I’m thinking that maybe in the winter months, I should change the name of this column to The Armchair Gardener.

Some people would just see an old bathtub and some stumps. A gardener on Waterford Bridge Road saw a planter and a whimsical seating area.

In my case, it would more accurately be The Corner of the Couch Gardener, but one has to be ever conscious of the flow of words in expressing the thought. For example, The Gin and Club Soda with a Splash of Orange Juice Gardener just doesn’t flow, does it?

I’ve always admitted that my best garden is in my dreams, and you know I’ve been dreaming about creating a seaside garden. But it’s more than just idle daydreaming.

While I’ve been miserable with the bitter cold outside and the head cold inside and all the other things that, as my mother would say, would take the joy right out of life, garden dreaming has been soothing my spirit and perhaps even saving my sanity.

I highly recommend it. When I mentioned last week that I picked up about 40 used magazines, I neglected to say that they were gardening magazines, which of course was the whole point. (That was probably a subconscious desire to protect my source, but any second-hand store with a magazine section can be a source.)

Of course, I could curl up in my corner with Newman’s laptop and have an endless supply of gardening inspiration without having magazines all over the couch, but I want to turn pages. With old magazines I can blithely tear out ideas that I want to save and then pass the remains on or recycle them.

New magazines I have to save until they become old magazines, because one of the advantages of being a certain age is I can look at the same magazine every few months for a few years before I’m content that I’ve seen it all before — and besides, my inner mother’s daughter can’t tear pages out of new magazines — and if you don’t find this sentence even the slightest bit confusing, God love ya.

My current favourite magazine is called Flea Market Gardening. It’s so comforting to know that my lifelong love affair with old things that most people would consider junk is now quite trendy. Of course using recycled objects/junk in the garden isn't about being trendy, it’s about being prudent and using your imagination and creativity to help the environment by keeping things from landfills.

Did I mention it’s also quite satisfying? In fact, the turn of phrase I’m looking for is “quite tickling,” as in “I am tickled pink when I turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.”

That’s the sort of planning and dreaming I’m engaged in now. Along with making lists of plants and checking them twice, I am thinking of ways I can repurpose some of the old stuff that was in the shed in Heart’s Content, not to mention stuff I’ve been dragging around for years and stuff I’ve stashed away at Newman’s house in Eastport.

Even the exterior of the shed itself has been completely transformed in my mind’s eye. I haven’t made any decisions about what I’m going to do with it, but there’s absolutely no excuse for a shed to look boring.

From something as simple as window boxes (even on a false window) to pink and purple paint and innumerable ideas for wall art, a shed in a garden that looks like a “garden shed” instead of just a storage building adds a lot to the charm of the garden.

Lots of the ideas I’ve seen are too garish for me, but other people’s ideas are just to be used as inspiration, not to copy.

I like the look of peeling paint on some things and I don’t mind a bit of rust, but solid rust doesn’t appeal to me. It is very much in the eye of the beholder, but after all it’s your garden and if your eye beholds a rusty gear box planted with succulents as a thing of beauty, who am I to say it isn’t?

Just search “gardening with junk” and maybe you’ll be inspired, too.

Janice Wells lives in St. John’s. Her latest book, “Newfoundland and Labrador Book of Musts,” was published in October 2010 by MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc. You can reach her at Note to readers: please do not send thumbnail-size photographs, as they are too small to publish.

Organizations: The Gin and Club Soda, MacIntyre Purcell Publishing

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