Do you have a happy place? Just being in the garden is enough for most of us, but how about creating a special space just for you? Here are some ideas that also have practical uses!
Make your own potting bench
I couldn’t live without mine. A potting bench means that you don’t have to bend over to sow seed in trays or repot plants. It is perfect for growing trays of baby-leaf lettuce and spinach (harvesting is a cinch). Everything can be kept in one place:
geminating and seedling mix, garden tools, fertiliser, even the wormery or bokashi bin if there is enough space. Upscale an old desk or dresser that has drawers for keeping seed, plant ties, labels and what have you, and shelves for potting soil, bins, buckets and cans.
Attach hooks for hanging garden tools. Seal the wooden surface or give it a water-proof topping that can be wiped down.
Other options: Build your own bench from used wooden pallets or other recycled wood (picket fencing, wooden palisades, old shelving), paint or stain an old table, or lay a door, metal shelf (or similar) over trestles.
Good to know: Make sure that the bench is at a height that suits you; bending is a back breaker. Aim for a good-sized working surface that can accommodate seed trays and still allow for other work.
Garden seat for one (and some compost worms)
The best time of day is that early morning cuppa in the garden. Make a garden seat that doubles as a wormery, and why not? For the DIY-inclined, make a sturdy box using recycled timber (used pallets are cheap), with a hinged top that not only can be lifted but is also solid enough to sit on. Inside the box, divide the space into two sections with a partition that allows the worms to move from one to the other. Fill up the one side, then move onto the second. The worms will follow so that it is easy to harvest from the first section. To engage the senses, surround it with fragrant herbs like lemon verbena, basil, scented geranium and penny royal mint.
Other options: The wormery in this picture was an old precast concrete container without a base. Holes were drilled around the rim to allow in air for the worms. Any sturdy rectangular container that could double up as a seat would do.
Good to know: Make sure that air can filter in, even when making a wooden wormery. A blanket (like that used for dogs) is ideal for laying on top – it keeps the wormery humid and moist without becoming too wet.
Many gardeners remember the veggie garden as their happy space when they were kids. Do the same for your children or grandchildren. This Lifestyle Garden Centre show garden created this kid’s corner using painted stepping-stones, each with a letter of the alphabet. What a fun way to learn the alphabet and invent garden games, like learning to spell your own name. Let the kids plant pickable veggies like baby carrots, lettuce, radishes, beans or baby tomatoes. A bunny in the centre adds the finishing touch. Frogs, lady birds and beetles would work too.
Bling your JoJo tank
The sound of rain on the roof is music to the gardener’s ears. So too is the sound of rainwater running into the JoJo tank. Even though we love them, JoJo tanks are not pretty. Take time this festive season to pretty yours up; wrap plastic mesh around the tank, securing it with cable ties, or stick it on with glue/silicon. Decorate the mesh with some quirky garden bling (like these oversized butterflies) or use the mesh as a trellis to support climbing fruit or vegetables like granadillas, raspberries, grapes, tomatoes, butternut, cucumbers or pumpkins.
A fairy-tale night garden
The other best time to be in the garden is at night, when everyone else has gone to bed. It’s a time to just sit and enjoy the night sounds (or hunt for snails!) All you need is some soft light that creates a mystical shadow garden, and solar lights do the trick. On a section of garden wall, attach a piece of wood, screw in a row of cup-hooks and suspend some solar lights in jars. An alternative is to thread some solar fairy lights through a trellis or the branches of a nearby tree, or twirl them around an obelisk. This is the best time to hunt down snails that decimate the garden at night.
A corner to call your own
There is a very playful aspect to gardening, called pottering, which can include creating displays of your favourite herbs, repurposing a chair as a plant holder, painting trellises in bright, earth-friendly colours, or just setting aside a nook for reading, dreaming and planning. Here are two display ideas that could lead to many happy hours:
- Don’t discard an old stove but use it to show off plants. Let vining tomatoes tumble out of the oven, remove the plates, and use the cavities for pots of leafy vegetables and herbs. Paint the stove a different colour: the quirkier the effect the better.
- Tie two old ladders together and slide in planks to rest on the steps, making a series of shelves for plants. Display plants in upcycled kitchen pots and pans (drill drainage holes), pick a colour theme for the pots, and add trailing plants for a hanging garden effect.
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