Reuse and Recycle Old Things in Your Vintage Garden!
In my part of Europe, a new type of garden is coming up—a vintage garden! Also known as shabby chic, a vintage garden can be created in many different ways, but it should focus on reuse and quality, and not so much on consummation.
A vintage garden isn’t supposed to be perfect or even so well organized. It should instead be a place where people can socialize and relax and should reflect creativity, personality, and harmony. There should be no room for stress or “must do”.
It's is the opposite of the modern way of living with consumption and throwing away used stuff. It is about preserving the old and beautiful and also a way of creating another way of life.
I will give you some examples of things that can be used to create a vintage garden, but remember that these are only suggestions. The point is to use the things you have laying around that you don’t use anymore. Try to see new and other ways to use those old things, remake old things, and combine items in fresh and exciting new ways.
You don’t have to turn the whole garden into a vintage display—again, it is all up to you. Maybe you'd rather have one area of vintage focus.
How Is a Vintage Garden Structured?
A vintage garden is best described as a delightful chaotic profusion! It isn’t supposed to look contrived and it is alright to have plants for food production mixed with flowers. Other important features are paths and borders, fruit trees, and of course, many places to sit down or for relaxation. The key is to make the garden look like it is a garden that is being used and not only for the eye.
Since a vintage garden is supposed to look nostalgic, it is best to divide the garden into smaller "rooms". That will create a feeling of shelter and privacy but also prevent the space from looking too "messy". You divide the garden to smaller rooms by making it a little like a cottage garden with hedges around, which will also give shelter from the wind.
Borders, Edges, and Walls
As said before, hedges are important in order to create that vintage feeling. As hedge plants, you can of course use the one you prefer, but for a vintage feeling it should be a hedge that is easy to multiply or that shoots suckers, and, most important, thrives where you live. Where I live, this means lilac hedges or old shrub roses in seasonal areas. Old rose bushes can be planted here and there in mixed borders. As you might have guessed, hedges that need constant care and pruning is not the best choice.
Other types of edges that can be used are paths that can consist of gravel, grass, or stone ore flat rocks paths. If you use rock or stone, choose something that can be found in your area instead of bringing in some texture that doesn’t fit in the natural environment where you live. You can also mix materials in pathways; in fact, it can be very effective with a mix of stones, gravel, and slabs in matching tones.
Another type of border is the low-growing plants that can be used at the front of the beds or beside paths. You can use them as informal ribbons at the edge of small borders or let them be tucked down here and there in a more unstructured pattern.
Use walls that already exist in your garden, or if you must make new ones, make sure they have a purpose and just doesn’t pop out in an unnatural way from the ground in the middle of nowhere. If you make a new wall of any kind, surround the wall with flowers, climbers or make use of the wall for shelves, pots or other things for decoration.
Places for Relaxation
Use furniture from inside that you don't want anymore. It can be old beds, preferably made with an iron frame. That will lock just right in a vintage garden. As garden furniture, use the old wooden chairs and wooden sofa from inside the house. They might not stand in a hundred years but they will last longer than you think. And make sure to plan more than one area where you can sit down for a while. A vintage garden is supposed to be a garden where you can walk around, pick some flowers, sit down and look at the flowers, socialize with your family and friends, lay down and look at the clouds or even take a nap!
Vintage in the garden should be the same as quality, and there are many perennials that meet these criteria. Look for perennials that are hardy, easy to care for, and even self-sowing. Some great examples and some of my personal favorites are Columbine, Astrantia major, Peony, Bridal Veil, Larkspur, Lavendula, and Clematis. There should be perennials that flower so you can go out and pick a bouquet. The flower beds should be small or big, free-standing, and not look so pruned or chastened. Let the plants stand where they want and they will thrive.
Other Things That Will Make a Vintage Garden!
- Use water jugs in zinc or other old watering cans, use old coffee cans and jars as vases, use gadgets that are worn and are painted in many layers. If all layers are visible, the better! Make small organised areas with selected objects and flowers as art here and there in the garden. Have bouquets outdoors, and let old tools with a history become part of the décor.
- If you don't have the desired items yourself, pay a visit to a car boot sale or maybe you know someone who would be glad to get rid of old stuff in their houses. There is no ending to what can be used in a vintage garden. If one starts to look at things with new eyes, almost anything can be used!
- An aquarium can be transformed into an exhibition spot where you put precious things or just things you like for the moment. Next week you can swap the items in the aquarium and you get a totally different appearance.
- Use old trolleys, bicycles, shelves, tables: Everything can be of use, the only thing that can restrict your creativity is your imagination limits!
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Christina Lornemark