Trash to Treasure in My Garden – I Use the Whole Buffalo


For a while, I have wanted to construct in my garden a rustic arbor, made from evergreen trunks.  I don’t live in a forest [although I wish I did]; but during the weeks following Christmas a forest of trees appears on the curbs of my town.  They sit there, awaiting garbage pick up. Two years ago, I decided to help the garbage men and to pick up some of the trees myself.  I brought them home; trimmed the limbs [I used the limbs for first arbor.  I trimmed all the limbs off the trees and used the tree trunks as posts.  Mill]; and began building a rustic arbor. That same year, I began my first project.  The arbor looked fairly good for a short while.  The problem was that it had no real support.  I had tried just digging some holes, sinking some posts, and adding the limbs to that.  Within a couple of months, my work had begun to topple, so I began again.

This time, I began by sinking the posts in the same way, but I built a longer, wider fence and began to attach the tree trunks.  Within months, that project began to topple, too.  I realized that  I needed to attach my efforts to someghing permanent and sturdy.  This year, I have rebuilt my fence/trellis again, and I have attached it to trees along the side of my property.  Surely the trees can hold things steady.


I couldn’t afford to buy a lot of lumber for the project.  Used posts and lumber were strewn around my yard, and I needed to clean that debris anyway; therefore, I used the junk lumber and posts.  After about a month, the trellis seems sturdy enough but it is tacky.  Because I have planted climbing roses and red honeysuckly along the trellis, I am counting on eventually hiding the tackiness.


In the above photo, the red Don Juan Rose is beginning to climb the trellis.


In the above photo, you can see that large, thick wire panels are on the fence behind the trellis.  I found the wire panels in the trash behind Lowe’s.  It was on a crate in which something was shipped.  While I have doubts that my cute, white trellises will last very long, the much stronger support, the wire panels, should last a lifetime.  By the time the white trellises have begun to decompose, there will be enough roses to fill in the gaps.

Roses are planted all along the parts of the fence where there are white trellises are placed in front of the wire panels.

The climbing rose Zepherine Drouhin is planted on the trellis behind the birdbath.  Althrough it is growing, it has not begun to bloom yet.

Sally Holmes, another climbing rose, is planted in the same area.  It bloomed briefly in early summer.  Right now, it is not blooming.  It is only growing.

I also have an old, white stretch of fence that leads from the front left side gate through the center of the back left side of my backyard.  Naturally, I got that old, white fence from the trash, and the arbor over the entrance is actually a queen wicker headboard.  As soon as I anchored the headboard, I planted  grapes that I knew  would soon cover the whole deal. I just needed the rounded, wicker headboard as a base shape around which to weave the grape vines.

The grape vine trellises meet the rose trellises in the area where I am building my rustic arbor.  Because I want to avoid a thorn attack when I gather the grapes, I want to keep my grapes separate from my roses.


Although a bit of the previous years’ grape vines have reached the spot where I am building my rustic arbor,  last fall I planted more grapes where the two tree trunks are currently standing.  Soon, the rustic arbor and the arch to the roses will be completely covered with either grapes or rose vines.   grapes2015c

Close to the bird bath, I have planted Red or Coral Honeysuckle.  Although I planted the honeysuckle last year, it blooms on old growth.  This year is the first that the honeysuckle is actually growing and blooming.


The honeysuckle is planted along a rail that I have attached to an old, weathered fence post.  I like the way that the post had aged and thought that a bird or another creature might build a home inside one of the holes.


I read that the red honeysuckle might grow up to 20 feet during this year.  I am counting on its contributing to the hiding of the tackiness.

Back to the Christmas tree project:

Last winter was brutally cold and  at Christmas, I was watching my previous trellis’s caving to the elements.  I was temporarily discouraged from building my rustic trellises and fences.  This Christmas I plan to relaunch the program. I plan to get several more trees and to create something elaborate and decorative on on the portion of the trellis that stands behind the bird feeder.

Vermont Rustic Cedar.

My Scarecrow, Ava Gardener, is another recycled trash project.


For Ava’s legs, I used a broken stool.  I attached an upturned tomato cage to the top of the stool and I wove dried cane around the tomato cage.  Ava’s head is an opened decorative birdcage.  The opened lid is saying that Ava has flipped her lid.  For Ava’s arms, I disassembled a square grapevine wreath.  Ava is holding an old hoe–one that I found in someone’s trash.


Last year, I found the above wooden boxes in someone’s trash and the year before that, I found the mini palettes in someone else’s trash.  It has taken a while for me to decide what to do with these finds.


A Cottage Garden is a perfect place to use trashy treasures.  Cottage Gardens are actually more effective when a bit of rustic whimsy is allowed to shine.  I am certainly not opposed to incorporating a bit of trash in my landscaping.  Why, even my soil is someone else’s trash.


When my neighbors put bags of leaves and grass clippings on the curb, I pick them up and compost them; [leaves are great for attracting earthworms to your garden:,  I use the grass and leaves for fill; and I put them in my greenhouse for warmth. [As they begin to decompose, they create a bit of heat].  I even use the paper bags that held the leaves and grass.  I place that on the very back of my lot–on the places where I’ll eventually create soil and complete my lot leveling project.  The paper bags are a type of fill that prevents weeds from growing.

Although all this trash-picking rings of hoarder behavior, I am always delighted when a trash find is just the right thing for my garden.  In looking at myself, I am reminded of the scene in the series Jericho, where Gail Green said the following to her husband the Mayor:

Gail Green: “You are going to admire this ridiculous pumpkin with me and then we are going to try and eat the pumpkin together because we use every part of the buffalo in this house. Is that understood?”


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