When one is not enough
It’s hard to say why gardeners collect things. Gnomes, a certain kind of pot, birdhouses—old or new, no garden-related object is off limits when it comes to wanting another. Fortunately, when two turns into ten, there are ways to put collections to good use.
Start by using collections to create areas of interest. Potting shed walls and wood fences invite sun faces and garden signs. Got a barrel full of outmoded tools? Dust them off, and then arrange them into a montage on an unadorned wall. Got more bricks than you can count? Use them to construct a sidewalk. Folks will enjoy reading the names of the companies and towns where the bricks were made.
Decks and patios welcome garden treasures as readily as they welcome plants. Line up watering cans on a bench, or cluster them together in a corner. Fill a baker’s rack with garden trugs or collectible pots. Exhibit hose nozzles, faucet handles, and other small objects from yesteryear in a wooden soda crate used as a curio cabinet.
Garden rooms provide a safe haven for prized collections that are too fragile to withstand the outdoors. Arrange antiquated gardening books and seed catalogues on tabletops and shelves. Display vintage seed packets in early-era clay pots or showcase them in frames. Flaunt glass florist frogs on windowsills where they catch the light. Embellish the walls with garden prints and paintings.
Bottle collections are the makings of bottle trees and flower bed borders. Still more bottles? Fill them with water and garden flowers. Display the vases on countertops, tabletops, or anywhere a bottle and a bloom might make someone’s day.
Unconventional collections can be put to use, as well. Imagine wood-headed golf clubs stuck shaft side down in the garden to resemble flowers. Visualize bowling balls stacked pyramid-style to form garden art. If those ideas aren’t quirky enough, how about hanging a collection of fishing lures on a garden gate to express a weird sort of welcome.
The shabby allure of something old, the shiny gleam of something new, the thrill of the chase itself: there are all kinds of reasons why folks collect things. But for gardeners, maybe the satisfaction of collecting comes from incorporating the items into the garden where collections can grow alongside plants.