by Claudia Johnson, Feb. 1, 2018, Rose Hill Farm

With my new little garden prepped and ready to go, I had to decide on plants and what to plant them in. Choosing plants and containers for my whimsical small flower garden was exciting. This garden’s goal was to be fun, relaxing and economical, so I first gathered up everything I had available as planting containers. These included pots that had belonged to my mother, my granny and my husband’s mother. I also had a variety of sizes of terra cotta pots, some of which needed serious scrubbing and even painting, though I prefer the actual look of terra cotta.

Being a big fan of Pinterest, I tried to choose a couple of projects I thought I could actually accomplish. I am not very crafty, so these had to be 1. inexpensive and 2. simple. One idea that seemed easy enough was the “tipsy” pot. This involved beating a substantial metal rod into the ground and carefully placing the terra cotta pots of various sizes at precarious angles, then planting flowers that would “spill” from the pots as they grew (see the result in the photo at right). For this I used mostly moss rose the first year. It is easy to grow from seeds and buying plants is not expensive either. At most places a tray of 6 was less than $2, so I chose four different colors to use in the tipsy pots and other places.

Another idea I loved was creating a butterfly feeder from found objects like a candlestick, a large plate and a smaller plate held together with 100% silicone glue. Pieces of rotting fruit and sponges soaked in sugar water are placed in the upper plate to quench thirst of butterflies. I got a little paranoid about the collection of water in the feeder and that it could attract mosquitoes that were carrying some deadly virus, so I ended up planting some moss in it that has been growing for decades on a tree stump in my parents’ yard.

Between the two of us, Danny and I had a collection of concrete planters. I love herbs, and I wanted to grow some for use during the summer vegetable season as well as dry for use in winter. The planters were perfect for that except that they have no holes for drainage. I used an idea from Pinterest that suggested crushing soft drink cans and placing a layer of them along the bottom of the planter before putting in the potting soil and the plants. That worked great, and we did have enough of several varieties of basil, mint, oregano, lavender and thyme to use and dry. One big problem that possibly prevented a better yield was that the planters were under a wide overhang, so they did not get rain and sun like they needed, but I did water them daily.

The most fun I had was on my quest for containers I could turn into pots. My limit at thrift stores and yard sales was $1.50. I found that so many of the containers I loved, like tea pots, vintage vases, teacups, etc., could not be used because there was no drainage hole. Google to the rescue! All I needed was a diamond drill bit. My husband was shocked that I asked for a diamond for Valentine’s Day, since I could care less about jewelry. When I explained what I needed, he found two different sizes and even created a little space in his shop for drilling holes in my glass and pottery finds. Fortunately the “diamond” came with his services as the driller-of-the-holes. You have to know what you are doing and have a steady hand, but this works great and has enabled the garden to become fun to create and given it a whimsical look that I can change up a little each year without much expense.

I have discovered that my green thumb is not that much greener, but the choice of plants and potting soil have given me a chance for success. Barky Beaver makes a variety of potting soils for consumers as well as professional growing mix for commercial growers. I’ll talk more about these in future posts.

Follow us on to follow the progress this amateur gardener and the quest for a greenhouse.




The tipsy pots at the very beginning


Concrete planters with herbs


Eventually I added cane and succulents to the pots to provide a variety of textures and colors.


These are just a few of the junk store ceramic and glass pieces bought for pennies and repurposes with the help of a diamond drill bit.


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