Thinking Outside the (Recycled) Box

Thinking Outside the (Recycled) Box


 Turning trash into garden treasure 

Recycling, reusing, repurposing… it’s not just a fad. It’s a way to life for some garden designers who strive to breathe a second life into an unimaginable array of ‘stuff.’ Someday perhaps our landfills will disappear, as everyone catches on and reuses their stuff in new and exciting ways in their homes and gardens.

Here are a few ideas from past Northwest Flower & Garden Show display gardens and container exhibition (now called the ‘Small Space Showcase’) that will spark your own creativity to reuse and repurpose items that might be destined for the dumpster.

(Above) Pamela Richards settled an old vintage bed into her black and white garden she created for the 2005 garden show.


In 2009 Adam Gorski Landscapes used an old white table and two fire engine red 50’s style chairs to go with the shiny red of a vintage Mustang and a red coral back maple.

Exteriorscapes planted this classic claw-foot tub, put it in front of some used windows and set it on a checkerboard pebble mosaic, with a planted chair and rug for a cozy washroom scene in the 2010 garden show.

Christianson’s Nursery always excels in creating the nostalgic look. Here their 2011 garden was reminiscent of family nurseries of yesteryear, with a barn built with old weathered wood.

Courtney Goetz of the Creative Gardener designed these gabion walls in the entry to her 2011 garden, using old wire, wine bottles and topping them with street covers.

Another scene from Courtney’s 2011 garden, where an old shipping container serves as a garden house, topped with a greenhouse made from old window doors.

DIG Floral & Garden used old crates to make the containers in their container garden at the 2011 show. We’ll never go back to boring plastic pots again.

Molbak’s created this greenhouse using vintage windows in funky colors for their 2011 container garden on the sky bridge.

More recycled materials in another garden by Pamela Richards, where she combined an old rusted screen as a backdrop that blends perfectly with the rusty antique bench.

For their 2011 container garden, Windmill Gardens planted their container garden by recycling metal containers and wood, and maybe even an old gardener!

Likewise, in 2012 Artisans Cottage brought in many kinds of repurposed items to create an old-fashioned vignette. ‘Mother Earth’ was popular with show attendees as she took a break from her gardening activities.

In 2012 Artistic Garden Concepts designed a lush garden with a romantic setting, using an old pallet with wooden legs for a candlelight dinner. Do try this at home.

Tumwater’s Black Hills High School students found use for these lovely rusted old wheels (probably made well before they were born) for their ‘Funky Junk” garden at the 2012 show.

This container garden by Ravenna Gardens shows that any old glass container can be turned into a beautiful terrarium – the ultimate easy care garden for inside or outdoors.

Even old pianos can have a new life with their top planted, as shown by the imaginative people at Sunnyside Nursery.

Last year Native Root Designs and WSNLA created this dramatic black and white checkerboard garden with two vertical pieces made from old pallets serving as focal points.

Lovers of all things vintage will love to know we’ll have a Vintage Garden Market at this year’s show. We’re bringing in a dozen of the top vintage/antique vendors from around the state and putting them together in the North Hall for a fabulous shabby chic ‘flea market.’

The Northwest Flower & Garden Show, to be held February 20 – 24 at the Washington State Convention Center, will feature 23 amazing show gardens plus 16 Small Space Showcase gardens. Designers are putting on their finishing touches, and you are sure to see a lot more imaginative ideas for recycling and repurposing. Don’t miss it! ~ Janet

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  • Bill T
    Posted at 17:21h, 13 February Reply

    Love these photos! You can do so many of these things at home, including building inexpensive cold frames with recycled window sashes. They’re $5 a pane at the ReStore in Ballard.

    At the Portland Yard, Garden & Patio Show last weekend, the folks at Dennis’ 7 Dees Nurseries had attractive vertical “pallet gardens” on display – I put a photo and some info on my blog.

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