Creative Containers

How to plant a rusty wheelbarrow for the garden


After a trip over an old mine road near nowhere last April, Tractor Man and I stopped to follow this rusty cable. At the end of the ‘rusty brick road’ was OZ. A stunning treasure!

The holy grail for flea market gardeners

The holy grail for flea market gardeners.

How many people had passed this up after using it for target practice, I wonder? No Flea Market Gardener, I’m sure!  I know some here on our page who wouldn’t be above wheeling it away, running… There wasn’t a soul around that mine but a few ghosts and I STILL looked around to see if anyone was going to stop me.

We were near Coalinga, California, where ever that is, …a weird area desert like with a lot of benitoite in the soil.  A local man told us that because of all the minerals in the soil plants wouldn’t grow there,…that’s why the area looks like Utah desert.  We went there for the backroads and scenery. Believe me, this wheelbarrow was a GREAT scene!

Without question, my husband helped me heft it into the car,….I think even he admired the rusty patina, although he’s never used that word in his life. It will find a new home in my garden…   Bullet holes are good enough for drainage, right?

Later after stopping for dinner out and mid way through I gasped and told my hubby…”Oh My Gosh! We forgot the wheelbarrow in the truck,….what if someone steals it?!” He just looked at me….

OK, I’m happy.


Here it is in all its rusty bullet-holed glory!

All ready to plant

All ready to plant.

I LOVE it! Ready to plant, Autumn sage, ageratum and purple and magenta wave petunias. I’m not a petunia gal,…never have liked or grown them! BUT, one photo from our Spring Contest inspired me with this color combination, so I HAD to duplicate it. Any tips for me on petunias???

Petunias 101:  See all the tips YOU gave me!

Here’s my wheelbarrow all planted,…you can see where I moved my old wheelbarrow down further.

Newly planted with a few galvanized containers to match

Newly planted with a few galvanized containers to match.

Now, do I cut off the petunia flowers to make them fuller? Next photo not for a couple weeks,…hope it takes off. By the way, my inspiration was Shari McElhaney Telek’s petunia color combination in her “Celebrate Spring” contest photo. Thanks, Sheri! One of the nicest things about this page, I think, is when we get inspired by each other here and then act on it!

Shari Telek's photo and my inspiration

Shari Telek’s photo and my inspiration.


It’s mid summer and I thought I’d show the progress on my petunia planter wheelbarrow.

Mid summer and it's doing great

Mid summer and it’s doing great!

The deep blue and rose petunias, rose autumn sage and blue ageratum are filling in a bit. The galvanized tub below it has anemone which will bloom in the fall, and I just popped the Coreopsis ‘Rum Punch’ still in its nursery can into the bait bucket. I love it! I think I’m liking petunias now.

Categories: Creative Containers, Garden Art, Garden Junk, Garden Vignette, Gardening, Get Galvanized, Rusty Rust, Wonderful Wheelbarrows | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Petunias 101

Petunias are a Flea Market Gardening standby for  rusty or galvanized containers.  Have you grown them?  I haven’t much and asked for tips from the experts, when planting my old rusty wheelbarrow.  Here’s their scoop on growing these common annuals.  You’ll find that they may be ‘perennial.’ 

Mid summer and it's doing great

Mid summer petunias in the wheelbarrow

Diane Renz Davis

I plant in my wooden planter box by putting plants in milk jugs, cut down so that no one can see them and the plants grow around them. they are great cause the water doesn’t go thru and rod out the item below, plus they need less water that way. You might want to try that with a wheel barrow too.

Jackie Doeden

Petunias bloom from early spring until the snow and cold weather freeze them out!!! They take very little fussing over, stick them in the dirt and stand back and watch them grow..a bonus is that they smell so good. This is a basic workhorse in the flower garden. I personally like the regular ones better than the wave as they smell better but even the wave have great flowers. You may have your mind changed by growing petunias, this is one of the old fashioned flowers that are a must grow in my garden!!!

Photo by Jeanne Sammons

Photo by Jeanne Sammons

Lori Brunk McMillon

I love petunias, they remind me of my grandparents who always planted an “English Cottage” style garden. Even as my grandfather aged and could no longer do too much in the yard he built an A-frame stand and grew petunias in pots. Some of them really put on a wonderful fragrance in the evening (I used to have a friend go garden shopping with me and we were always sticking our noses in them to see which had the strongest smell and people would ask us about them as many didn’t even realize they have a wonderful smell) and attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and moths. They really don’t require much care (one of the reasons they’re an old fashioned favorite), just watering and an occasional feeding. Removing of spent stems will encourage more new growth and blooms.

Laurie Linn

Fertilize your petunias every time you water with a very weak solution. Don’t need to deadhead but do pinch ends to encourage new growth once in a while or cut 4 inches off the ends every two months. They will grow like crazy!

Photo by Shari Telek

Heather Rotz

Ignore them. Petunias are grown by everyone because even if you have a black thumb, they grow well. Deadheading is key though if you want them to get huge and full of a carpet of flowers. Water only when really needed.

Marie Niemann

I love the wave petunia’s especially since they reseed and come back! They are really easy to grow, they need water, sunshine and a little fertilizer and they will happily grow and spill over the sides of a wonderful old rusty wheelbarrow! Can’t wait to see it!

Photo by Marie Niemann

Photo by Marie Niemann

Dot Brennan Baker

I had an old wheelbarrow, had it planted with ferns, and placed under a maple tree. Loved it, my daughter has it now. No more maple tree. Your plant combo looks great. I would add a lime green Heuchera to the mix, but then, I would add lime green to just about any mix. I love Wave Petunias, the only kind I plant, and they do a great job reseeding.

Lissa Jane Bitton

I think you do need to deadhead them – make sure and pinch off the whole bud not just pull the dead flower! I cut mine back before I plant them so they bush out and don’t get leggy as fast – so initially they have no blooms! Mine got a caterpillar the past couple years and wouldn’t rebloom so will probably spray the from the get go even though I prefer growing things organically!

Categories: Creative Containers, Gardening | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Galvanized tomato garden for one

Many people grow large vegetable gardens. I grow a small one that fits in five wash tubs.  It’s just the right size for two of us, since one of us doesn’t like tomatoes. This is a garden that a Flea Market gardener would love….I do!

Five galvanized tubs with drainage holes hold tomatoes, green onions and jalapeno peppers

Five galvanized tubs, with drainage holes, hold tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green onions and jalapeno peppers.

For a good mix, I used one bag of each kind of soil at Home Depot just like is recommended in square foot gardening. The salesman there thought I was nuts, I think. I fertilize and watch for worms….didn’t find one, the healthiest I’ve ever seen,  until the end of the season.

Black Krim is the variety I grew this year, full bodied intensely sweet and inside, red, not black!

Black Krim is the variety I grew this year, full bodied intensely sweet and inside, red, not black!

Sweet 100s

Sweet 100s by the dozens…99 maybe.

Mini harvest for one

Mini harvest for one. My husband doesn’t like tomatoes. Most of the peppers I popped into a Zip-loc bag and froze. I then would add them to soups, spaghetti sauce and casseroles.

Watch for this guy, a tomato worm. They say these, (not this one), turn into hummingbirds moths.

Watch for this guy, a tomato worm. They say these, (not this one), turn into hummingbirds moths.

Some of the tomatoes, I dried and packed in jars of olive oil. See my recipe here.  ~~ Sue

Categories: Creative Containers, Edibles, Garden Junk, Get Galvanized, How to: Easy projects | 10 Comments

Tammy’s cottage garden of yesteryear

Part of the beauty of Tammy’s garden is like stumbling on a wee bit of rural England or maybe journeying back a century or two into simpler times. Another factor is how she captures the look with her camera. Look at these ancient looking vignettes containing  cottage garden plants like yarrow, coneflower, snapdragons, foxglove, lobelia and stock. Little birdhouses appear here and there.

Old enamel pan on a wooden stand is centered in the garden bed

A simple old enamel pan on a wooden stand is centered in the garden bed

Tammy’s ancient rusty wagon is filled with Mecardonia ‘Gold Dust’, Violet alyssum, and Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost.’  In this photo below, the clay pots just glow and the handles of the garden forks echo the handle of the wagon.

Tammy's ancient rusty wagon

Tammy’s ancient rusty wagon

Against this weathered grey fence below, coneflowers and meadow sage hide a galvanized chicken feeder hung on a simple hook. Details in the background below are intriguing!  Thanks, Tammy!

A weathered fence is a backdrop for another vignette.

A weathered fence is a backdrop for another vignette.

Categories: Blue in the Garden, Creative Containers, Garden Art, Garden Junk, Garden Vignette, Get Galvanized, Recycling, Rusty Rust, Spring gardening | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Jimmye’s friendship boat

Oh, my stars!

Jimmye’s boat garden

Jimmye Lynn Dye-Porter’s boat garden started with a problem area on her property.

She tells a little background, “My home sits on a little over 1/2 acre and in one area near the property line, I get runoff from several directions. Needless to say, it is not ‘mowable.’   I decided to fill in as much as I could with top soil, garden soil, wildflowers and you name it.  One day as I was working, my neighbor who lives behind me was mowing (he owns the big pasture and pond). He asked what I was doing and I shared my plans… he said, “Would you like to have a boat to put in the low spot?”

But, Jimmye had already filled in, mulched and decorated this area with many projects inspired by Flea Market Gardening! Why was she starting over?

Jimmye starts the story, ” All of this was done in the first week of May. I was just sick of looking at the wet area. I had what I would call ‘completion on the original area’, …the one where the wild flowers, a bird bath, container plants and a wheelbarrow are. I was pretty satisfied with the area, then the boat came along. I left the original area, added the boat, then starting renovating it.

“My brain went into high gear when my neighbor first offered the boat.  I knew if he was serious, I WANTED that BOAT!  He and his wife delivered it on May 1st. My son in law came down the next day and helped me get it ‘docked’… and I went to work.”

“It became a whimsical challenge, just adding stuff here and there. I completed the project on May 12th. I worked all but two days and three of the days were 90 degree with unbearable humidity!  Everyone loves it! Other than my son in law helping dock the boat – I did all the work myself. A couple of times, I did not think this almost 65 widow would make it!”

"This is the day the boat floated up in my yard.."

“This is the day the boat floated up in my yard..”

Katty Kat and I spent all day putting newspaper & cardboard down to hopefully kill the grass in this area.

Katty Kat and I spent all day putting newspaper and cardboard down to hopefully kill the grass in this area.

"The red pump came from my childhood home."

“The red pump came from my childhood home. I used it to ‘anchor’ the boat. I added cypress mulch on top of the cardboard, then started ‘gathering’ items from around the yard,” Jimmye tells us.

"I started adding soil and more items from the yard. Lots and lots of garden soil. I added Lantana in the back, since they will eventually be large - red/white& blue wave petunias & red gerbera daisies," Jimmye says.

In progress….

“I started adding soil and more items from the yard. Lots and lots of garden soil. I added Lantana in the back, since they will eventually be large and red, white and blue wave petunias and red gerbera daisies,” Jimmye says.

Brooke and Fisher, two of Jimmye's grandkids

Brooke and Fisher, two of Jimmye’s grandkids.

My grandchildren who live down the road from me, Brooke, who will be 6 in June and Fisher, who will be 10 in August, came down to inspect the boat.  There are 2 pair of boots on the seat on each side of Fisher, these were their first pair of boots, I have filled them with Hens and Chicks, Million Bells, and other succulents.

Oh, my stars!

Jimmye’s ‘stars’ are really her grandchildren!

I added two additional cobalt blue stars, for each of my grandchildren, Jackson who will be 9 in Oct and Kenna, who will be 3 in June… they are Texans! I will also add a small star in Sept. when then new grandson arrives.  If you will notice, the boat is now equipped with Cobalt Blue Satellite capabilities!

"This is the original area and I was happy with it!" says Jimmye.

“This is the original area and I was happy with it!” says Jimmye.

“This is the original low, wet area I ‘filled in’ with cardboard and bark mulch.  It’s a good thing my son in law is in the furniture business – it took ‘almost a boat load of cardboard’ to fill in the low spots. My Granddaughter Brooke and I made the birdbath.  I had tomatoes, peppers, squash, scarlet runner beans, sweet pea, wildflowers and one lone Blue Bonnet!  The wheelbarrow came from my son in law, the yellow child’s rake $2.97 from WalMart and the hanging votive holder are decorated with the Bud Lite Platinum Bottles.”

“I planted sunflowers in the concrete blocks and the ones I transplanted from under the bird feeders.  There is an area about 12 feet between the wheelbarrow and pots and the boat, I am going to add canna, some of my daylilies and Russian sage.  My intent is to link the two areas, in the next week or so, lots of flowers & mulch.  I did move some of the items I had made earlier to the boat.. the rusty chair with the lighted sconce/the upside down tomato cages, the barrel planter. The rest I added after adding the soil & then mulched all around.”

“On the last day, I told my friend, Becky, that I had lost track of time, until I uploaded the photos and looked at the dates, I had no idea I had completed the ‘Boat Project’ in only eight days!”

“AND,” says Jimmye, “this is fact, the only craft I have ever done was needlepoint and cross-stitch and I have not been able to do either of those in about 15 years, due to my diminished vision. SO, this was an entirely new medium for me!”

Jimmye tells us, “I met Becky Norris through FMG, when I would see some of her posts there, or vice versa.  We would laugh at each others responses and then we decided we could be sisters, we have so much in common, even our heights, both 5’2″!  I have really enjoyed getting to know Becky, as well as others at Flea Market Gardening.  Everyone has so much fun and is so helpful and encouraging.  I am so glad I am able to ‘be a part’ of this wonderful group!”


My heart is warmed by your friendship story, Jimmye,…I love all your projects and smile at the thought that your ‘too wet’ area now holds a boat! ~~ Sue

Categories: Creative Containers, Garden Junk, My Big Garden Project, Recycling, Something fun! | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Annie’s galvanized “tipsy pots”

Galvanized tubs containers, combined with ‘tipsy pots’ is a genius idea and two of our favorite things at Flea Market Gardening!

Annie Steen has ‘upped the ante’ with her galvanized ‘tipsy pots’ and has added  water flowing from the middle tub pouring into a little stream that flows into her pond.

Annie's fabulous creation

Annie's fabulous creation

What is her secret?

First of all, inspiration from another FMGer, Jeanne Sammons who posted her galvanized tipsy pots last year here on Flea Market gardening. Annie says, “Here is my friend Jeanne Sammons ‘tipsy bucket planter… Isn’t it beautiful?”

Jeanne Sammons galvanized tipsys

Jeanne Sammons galvanized tipsys with beads for 'water!'

Annie Grossart-Steen says, “I put mine at the top of the waterfall of the pond, with clematis growing in the back…I have no idea whats going in them yet, but I have a few weeks to think about it. Thanks for the wonderful Idea!”

Annie’s ‘how-tos’

“The rod I used is a 1″ electric conduit steel pipe. I drilled holes in the buckets, ran a pipe through the bottom tub into the ground and stacked the buckets. The buckets are screwed to the center rod, and that rod goes through the bottom tub about 2 feet into the ground.”

Tipsy tubs, ready to be planted

Tipsy tubs, ready to be planted

Annie used a galvanized watering can, a coal bucket, two medium sized tubs and a large wash tub, drilling drainage holes in the bottoms.  Galvanized is a term used when  steel or iron has been coated with zinc to prevent rusting, and it’s just fine to plant in!

For terracotta tipsy pots, a rebar or other thin pipe is pounded into the ground about a foot, then the pots are threaded and tipped this way and that onto the bar. Soil is added and flowers planted.  Push the bar down into the top pot so it doesn’t show!

“This sits right at the top of the waterfall of the pond, and I ran a hose up to the coal bucket and the water pours right back into the pond. Can’t wait to see it planted with the water spilling over….am I crazy or what…” Annie asks.

Galvanized 'tipsy pots' Photo by Annie Steen

Galvanized 'tipsy pots' Photo by Annie Steen

Ann Elias also saw Jeanne’s idea and acquired the ‘raw materials’ needed.  She says, “After seeing the photo of Jeanne Sammons tipsy bucket planter…I had to go check out my stash in the backyard by the fence which I placed there last year.”

Ann Elias's 'tipsy pot-to-be'

Ann Elias's 'tipsy pot-to-be'

“I got these from my Mother-in-laws garage when getting her house ready for an estate sale. I have a watering can somewhere in the garage. I can’t wait to make one and plant it…and then bring my mother-in-law over to see what I did with her treasures. THANKS so much to everyone here for all the inspiration!” Ann says.

Thanks especially to Jeanne and Annie.  You’ll inspire many to do this project.  ~~ Sue

Categories: Creative Containers, Garden Art, Garden Junk, Get Galvanized, Recycling, Water feature, Weekend Project! | 15 Comments

Getting galvanized…in the garden

Sempervivum arachnoideum Hens and Chicks 'Cebenese' in an old bucket

Sempervivum arachnoideum Hens and Chicks 'Cebenese' in an old bucket

Galvanized metal is simply steel in some form that has received a thin coating of zinc oxide, which simply prevents containers from rusting when exposed to the elements. This makes it perfect as a planter for bright succulents or spring annuals on the patio.

This galvanized strainer pail, found at the Flea Market, is filled with Hens and Chicks ‘Cebenese’, Sempervivum arachnoideum. The little chicks have a spidery web attached to the spines. The muted coral of the blooms contrast well with the blue grey steel.

What about growing vegetables in galvanized tubs? Is it safe?
Johanna Silver, Sunset test garden coordinator says,

“All of the professors I tapped from UC Davis saw no problem with gardening in galvanized containers. …. Zinc, which is a trace chemical in the soil, poses little risk to the plants, and won’t accumulate to unhealthy levels for humans in the crops.”

So don’t worry if planting veggies; they’re perfectly safe and your galvanized tubs will be long lasting as well!

Osteospermum, Salvia 'May Night' and graniums in a galvanized palnter on wheels.

Osteospermum, Salvia 'May Night' and geraniums in a galvanized planter on wheels.

Set by the front door, this galvanized planter, found at a tag sale, is the perfect size and proportion and has the added advantage of having casters, so it can easily rolled away to sweep. Filled with seasonal flowers it brightens the entry! Next time you see galvanized containers of any size at the Flea Market, better gather them up and get galvanized!

Also see my galvanized tubs used as a vegetable garden and an onion farm!  For ALL our galvanized garden ideas, go directly to our Get Galvanized photo album on our FMG Facebook page.  ~~ Sue

Categories: Creative Containers, Garden Art, Garden Junk, Get Galvanized, Recycling | Tags: | 6 Comments

I ‘brake’ for succulents

A few months ago, I found this rusty brake thingy in front of our car in a parking lot. Of course, I lifted the heavy thing and set it in the back of our small truck bed. In the dusk, I couldn’t tell if Tractor Man rolled his eyes.

Ghost plant and sedum

Ghost plant and sedum fill the mystery car part.

Rusty brake 'container'

The rusty brake became a 'container'

It was a Red Lobster parking lot! High class, don’t you know? If anyone had seen this before me there might have been a struggle.

Rusty brake 'container' on log

Rusty brake 'container' on log

Now, here it is in my garden planted with pearly grey-green Ghost Plant, Graptopetalum paraguayense, Dragon’s blood’ sedum and set on a log beside a path. ~ Sue

Categories: Creative Containers, Gardening, How to: Easy projects, Recycling, Rusty Rust | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Two garden accidents and a happy ending

OK, there are conflicting accounts, but seeing as it is my blog, I will say that the Tractor Man got too close to my container plant.

Tractor hits old bucket

Tractor hits old bucket

Tractor Man came in after the accident full of advice for me, primarily to keep my garden further away from his driveway. No defense is needed for my part, so I will decline to show the ‘before’ photos of the driveway and how close it is to the front garden.

Deciding to divide and set some of these babies free!

Deciding to divide and set some of these babies free!

Since sempervivum, or Live-forever, divides easily and this old bucket container was very crowded before, the best solution was to deconstruct the relatively squashed ‘hens and chicks’ and spread them around throughout the garden. I didn’t count how many pieces there were, but it was a lot. Continue reading

Categories: Creative Containers, Garden Junk, Gardening | Tags: | 5 Comments

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