Rusty Rust

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

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

Marie’s Rust Garden

One nice thing about our Flea Market Gardening companion blog, is that we can feature some big garden projects, step by step.

This May, Marie and Randy Niemann, of Ogden, Utah, embarked on an ambitious raised bed project which totally transformed their back garden and patio.  Here’s how they did it over just the last months.

Randy was the architect and muscle for the job, and Marie, a long time member of our Flea Market Gardening Facebook page was the ‘decorator’, embellishing the beds with her collection of Flea Market junkola. Marie certainly did her part of the construction, too, even though she needs to be careful of straining her back.  Here, she says, she laid out the general plan to change their lawn into four raised beds with brick paths between. They also wanted a seating area in which to relax, barbeque and sit and enjoy the garden’s progress.

Garden plan laid out with ribbon

Garden plan laid out with ribbon

In order to complete the job, they needed to rent equipment to do the heavy work, such as this Dingo, sort of a self-propelled push tractor. They also added water spigots and drip emitters to each bed for irrigation. Randy took a week off from work to devote to the project…what a guy!

Marie had to remove all the Flea Market finds

Marie had to remove all the Flea Market finds

First each laid out the plan, Marie with tape, Randy with flags,…just get the lines straight! You might see Marie’s Mr ‘T’ back there in the corner, a scarecrow Randy and Marie made of old Model T parts. He’ll supervise the job until he’s moved to the front yard to join Neighborhood Watch.

Randy removed the dirt with the 'Dingo'

Randy removed quite a bit of dirt with the ‘Dingo’

Nine yards of gravel

Nine yards of gravel!

Filling the space with a gravel base

Filling the space with a gravel base

Since Marie and Randy live at 4500 feet, they needed deep footing to run water pipes.

Leveling the area exactly

“More prep work, the area has to be perfectly level, a good foundation makes for a good end result.”

Marie has a tip, “The main rule of thumb is to have a good solid level foundation to get good results in the brick being level. I actually invented a little tool to help in measuring the tamped down gravel. It had to be perfect! I got tired of bending down measuring the depth for Randy. So I got a piece of white PVC pipe and spray painted the bottom three and a quarter inches florescent orange. Then it was simple to walk along to check the depth against the string to see if we were high or low. Don’t know if that’ll make sense, but I was happy with my invention that saved my back!”

Starting to build the planter boxes!

Starting to build the planter boxes from Randy’s design.

One box done, four to go

One box done, four to go. The blocks inside hold the planks together securely.

All six boxes built

All six boxes built, four large, two small.

“Looks like it is going to take a lot of dirt to fill the boxes now. Marie says, “We have some we saved to fill each one part way up, then add good rich soil hopefully weed free! I have a lot of sand left over, so I’m thinking of mixing some of that with this dirt. It should be easier on my back and also everything will be within reach from each side. I’m excited to get to them filled and get busy planting seeds and rust!”


Boy, that was a lot of work!  We are SO tired just watching you two do the heavy lifting…..

Laying pavers all day in the heat makes a guy dog gone tired

Laying pavers all day in the heat makes a guy dog-gone tired!

Marie says, “I don’t know why Scooter and Tucker didn’t go lay on the nice soft cool grass. Silly Boys!”  We say, “Pavers? The dogs or the bricks? My thoughts exactly! You need more dogs to pave this area.”

A truck load of good dirt

A truck load of good dirt

Now for the best part….dirt!

Ready to plant

Ready to plant.

Any gardener loves this sight….only we know the satisfaction and hard work it takes to get a garden bed to this point.  A blank canvas to ‘write’ on and Marie writes in RUST!

But oops,…not quite yet…

First things first before we plant we need water

First things first before we plant we need water.

Randy and Marie installed water lines to each box with drip lines for irrigation.

What are you planning to plant, Marie?

“Mainly veggies and will for starters use containers for flowers until I get a feel for how it’ll look! Before I had one small garden and one even smaller to plant and decorate. Now I’ll have to give this some thought with five!”

Finished raised bed garden

Finished raised bed garden, complete with the table and benches that Randy also made.

Marie says, “My hubby bought an umbrella for the picnic table he made, and I told him good job on the color! It’s the exact color of rust!”

It should be easier on my back and also everything will be within reach from each side. I’m excited to get to them filled and get busy planting seeds and rust!

Marie's junkola is ready to go in.

Marie’s junkola is ready to go in.

Funnel planters with baby wave petunia's started from seed

Funnel planters with baby wave petunia’s started from seed

A little more Rust, old bike and gate. That new windmill needs to age

A little more Rust, old bike and gate. That new windmill needs to age

Randy, taking a well deserved break with a Blue Bud.

Randy, taking a well deserved break with a Blue Bud.

View from the deck, July 3rd and things are growing and filling in

View from the deck, July 3rd and things are growing and filling in.

“I’m having a blast! It makes me so happy to finally be able to grow more veggies and enjoy my rusty treasures at the same time. I know we’ll be spending a lot more time outside now!” says Marie.

Salad Garden

Salad Garden, July 11

Pepper garden

Pepper garden

“This is the pepper garden with my favorite hanging funnel planters filled with wave petunias I grew from seed.” (see the picture above)

All photos are by Marie Niemann. More detail shots in the slideshow:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Categories: Edibles, Garden Art, Garden Junk, Garden Vignette, Gardening, Get Galvanized, My Big Garden Project, Recycling, Rusty Rust | 15 Comments

Why do I love junk?

You know a junk lover lives close by...

You know a junk lover lives close by...

On our Flea market gardening page on Facebook last July, Wanda Bailey wonders WHY she buys the junk she buys?

There have been references to this being a support group for Junk buyers, hauling home all sorts of free and cheap stuff that no one else wants. So, think about it and tell us WHY you like buying junkola and how you got started doing so. I have to think about that one, too. ~~ Sue

Jackie Wilber I love junk because it’s free, preserves history, can be recycled, and uses my eclectic sense of creativity to transform it. Enough said :)

Pami Taylor Hmmm …. I could make a small greenhouse with all those windows and doors …

Jacqui Rogers Judging by the above pic all you need now is four walls – I think that explains the lov of junk to a TTTTTT

Linda Harrison I look at these windows and remember the magazine article that showed the frame on a wall with cute vintage evening bags hung in each ‘frame’….already had the window and 2 purses but had to find more purses….then there was the solid door turned into a table on HGTV so hauling things homes is a sign of great creative mind, a desire to create beauty out of (tr)ashes… ;-)

Jane Weeks Pictured stuff isn’t junk! It’s wonderful bits of history that can still serve many useful purposes. (I have quite a few old windows, too, but I used some in my new (read ‘using old stuff’) kitchen cupboard wall!

Patty Fitch Hicks The whole reason I like junk is that I see good use still in it. I do love the patina of past years too. Makes a place feel like its been there forever. It’s never really junk to me but things that just need to find a new use or new home where they can still be used and appreciated. Like in my garden…lol

Penny Duckworth Why I bring home junk, it reminds me of simpler times. also it needs to be loved by someone. I was the first of the baby boomers, things where hard to come by still and my parents would re-purposed items. You didn’t run out and buy new.

Penny Duckworth Also the old was better made than today products

Wheelbarrow full of sedum

Wheelbarrow full of sedum

Patricia Short McCall Elkins Revamping, recycling and finding new ways for it’s use! Creativity is inspiring and uplifting!

Brenda Skime I love having pieces that, if they could talk, would have such stories to tell!!

Zola Denio Can’t stand to see good old things that can still be used, destroyed—Who knows—we might need them 20 years from now!!!

Nicole Frye Seebart It makes my heart happy! I love to think about the people that worked hard to craft the item that I save from the garbage. I love old needle points, linens, etc. & I’ve just found the last one I needed to frame

several up in an old 9 pane window to display in my home. I enjoy things in my home that you can’t just go buy at Target, the hunt is almost as much fun as displaying it. You can’t find that quality anymore & when it is gone, it is gone forever. ;)

Flea Market Gardening I guess I started going to swap meets as a young girl with my neighbor-friends and saw how they valued old things, then an old German neighbor gave me a child’s dressing cabinet in exchange for me driving him to synagogue every Saturday. I hadn’t thought of that in a long time. I still have that cabinet. ~~ Sue

Susan Coffey Kirby Just ’cause it’s fun! You can use the left side of your brain & let your creative juices flow!

Marilyn Ward The two best wheelbarrows I have are junk finds – hard rubber tires, rusty or peeling paint, but they do a lot of hard work. The one I bought new a few years ago has a pneumatic tire that will NOT stay inflated, so it’s unusable; I drilled drainage holes in it, and it’s going to be filled with sedum and succulents. I love JUNK!

Donna Herman I like primitives and I like crafting so I love combining them….everyone that comes to my home always says you have such neat stuff…and i say to them “see that “junk” pile out there ,without that I wouldn’t have this”….lolololol

Betty Lee Wiggs Junk is a part of history, our past. Lots of times it brings back wonderful memories of those years gone by and the “remember whens”. Just look at something and try to think of three different ways to use it. Now getting the time to use it is something else.

Flea Market Gardening Did anyone start by reusing old family kitchen things? I still love using my Mom’s old stand mixer and my Grandma’s red wooden handled kitchen utensils. ~~ Sue

Marilyn Ward In a corner of my bedroom stands a rusty old dress form that is always dressed for the season – cotton dress in the summer with a straw hat; hand knit sweater and skirt in the winter with a wool hat. I picked ‘her’ up from a friends garbage pile many years ago.

Trudi Wilbur Ooooh I ♥ those windows and doors! I love creating things so to have all the junk laying around just keeps my mind going. :) Creating is my way of balancing life.

Jeanie Merritt I was my father’s son.( let me explain) He had 5 girls and no boys so I, being the oldest, got to be the one who helped him with the gardening, drove the tractor, helped him change the spark plugs in his car, etc, etc.. AND he loved flea marketing and auctions… so along I went. Sometimes I was embarrassed as a young girl helping dad haul all of the “junk” back to the truck and into a shed at home until he “figure out” what to do with it..I just shook my head and didn’t voice my opinion( you didn’t in those days if you were a child). Now I am my father…. Going to flea markets and auctions and carrying” junk” home until I figure out what to do with it…If Dad were still alive he would be smiling!!!!

Donna Herman When I was young(and dumb)we had a old man that lived in the same town ,he was known as the “junk man” of the town and people would wonder why he would want all the “junk” in and around his yard….i could answer their questions now for them……CAUSE HE WAS HAVING SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!!!!!!

Sal Salamander When my father was alive he had a flea market with a good friend, my grandmother had an Antique Store. It is in my genes.

Robbie Tatro Some of you will get to be on TV! “Hoarders” The one lady who lost her cat years before her episode but it had died IN her house. That memory keeps me from going over the edge.

Marie Niemann It started way back when I was a kid and would bring cool stuff home I found on the piles people would put out for the trash pick up. Going to the dump was more fun than going to a carnival! Still collecting and will not stop even if I win the lottery! When?

Kathleen Groh Levy Marie, I’m with you! I am a junker from way back. To me the biggest attractions of junk are (1) the hunt for a treasure that costs next to nothing or costs nothing at all and (2) finding a unique and oddball way of using it to decorate. Both are amazing and fun challenges.

Donna Herman Robbie..I am scared of just that very thing….shhhh!!! lol

Dianne Harbin Voss Started out because we couldn’t afford new things! Now I just love being creative and a little crazy!

Joanne Nixon I think I inherited the gene…my dad collected tools, my mother collected shoes…and I love junk…my daughter called me a “hoarder” ….what a silly thought….lol. my dad bought a case of tuna thinking what a great buy it was….turned out it was tuna CAT food…and they didn’t even have a cat…….that was one of the funniest things he ever did….I still think about it when I see “tuna”..

Flea Market Gardening Yes, Robbie and Donna, when your family tells you that the people from ‘American Pickers’ is coming out to put you on the show but the ‘Hoarders’ crew shows up, you know you’re in for an ‘Intervention’! ~~ Sue

Donna Herman Hahaha! Thats a scary thought….and I have to say something about “American Pickers,” ..first I LOVE the show..second I think they have gotten us pickers/junkers some respect…lol

Kathy Witherington Gilbert I really dont know ,it is a strange desire,maybe because I see a idea to be creative and make smething,mabe because it is great to mix with new things in a project to get that eclectic look, or maybe it is because when I see these woderful treasures I know it is something you cannot find at your locale chain store !!

Grandma's motel chair and grandpa's old tools

Nancy K. Meyer Most of my garden RUST are friend or family memories. I garden with Hostas, Rust and Memories. Plan on typing out a detail list this winter to go with my many garden photos. Don’t know if anyone cares about the stories, BUT I do~~~ will give me a winter project.

Renee’ Barclift Most of the new stuff they make nowadays is junk.

Sal Salamander Hey, love the chairs in the photo…

Sue Gerdes Why i drag junk home? what a silly question, the junk from years ago has quality that we don’t make anymore. everything is mass produced and we live in a “throw away” society. things from the past are not hollow they are solid, they are not pressed they are cut and welded with such wonderful designs and elegance. junk that I drag home is made to withstand time and wear. I love making things from these beauties, to breath new life into them and save them from the dumps and to show others what can be done so they can do the same and say with pride “I made that”. look at all the good things saving junk does for us, we can save space in our landfills and save buying materials from stores and make something no one else has and it gives us pride….I also drag junk home cause i am cheap. ;o) ~Flea2Fab

Debra L. Martin I would pick it up or buy that stuff. good stuff. I see a green house just laying there. Yes I am a junker and I lov it!

Annie Grossart-Steen It’s all ’bout the Quest for Me~ and the places we go and the people we meet along the way….The junk is just a bonus! It’s not knowing what your going to find that makes it so much fun!!! Have a good Day :)

Wanda Bailey I think we just feel bad for the things that get tossed aside, and think we have to rescue them.

Kirk Willis Some of my favorite memories are going garage saling with my Dad and aunts… We didn’t have much growing up…and neither did my parents. So, garage saling was a blast. I inherited the gene! LOL But….I have a photo of my work table in the garage… it is overloaded with treasures…almost an embarrassment! LOL I thought of posting it here to motivate me… I am a SUPER neatnick except for my work area! :o)

Debbie Groff-Childs Because it is fun to find good things and then even more fun to find things to do with it :-)

Old galvanized planter by the front door

Old galvanized planter by the front door

Robbie Tatro Wanda, be very careful with men. The ones that need to be rescued CAN’T be! Although my husband and my dog were both second hand hounds and quite the keepers.

Nell Howard Stelzer I have always liked old junk ! I love crafting and repurposing,in the house and in the gardens !

Lynne Glover Mann I grew up with parents who never threw anything away and repurposed everything. Later in life Daddy would go to auctions and buy box lots of ‘stuff’ . It was like Christmas going through them when he got home. I have continued the love of junking and have it throughout my home and gardens and now even started volunteering at a place called the ‘Scrap Exchange’ a reuse, repurpose organization that strives to keep ‘junk’ out of the landfill. Junk is a part of my life :)

Gail Brunke I love out pickin’ and rescue that Old stuff… growing up on a farm and just knowing you didn’t always have the money to buy new, you repaired and repaired … each piece has a story and when I pick it up in my hands & hold it that piece begins to talk. It’s in the blood :)

D Diane Weiss It has character. Some of the old distressed colors cannot be copied! Almost anyone can make something out of almost nothing! Just takes some imagination! The old adage – One man’s trash is another man’s treasure rings TRUE!!

Wanda Bailey Robbie…my husband and two of my dogs are second hand hounds …I wouldn’t trade them….except for the one dog…he bites! :0)

Debra L. Martin my first memory of picking/junkin was out looking for old wood from the torn down outhouses. so Mr. Davis could build us girls a playhouse in the back yards. Ohhh it was a beautiful site and veer colorful …loved it!

Robbie Tatro My mom came to visit and saw all the old auction stuff my husband bought. She lived thru the depression as a teenager and adult. Mom said, “It was old crap back then,it’s old crap now, let’s go to Walmart and buy something good!” I still have that old crap furniture and can’t help but laugh at the memory.

Kathleen Hussey Switzer because,deep deep down in my soul.I am cheap..LOL

Brenda Small I think you must have a very creative mind and be able to think outside the box. Making something completely different than what its original intended use was gives me a happy high. Saving things from the dump is also a good reason. The thrill of a cool find…My mind races to think of something amazing I can make it into. Just plain fun and creativity! Since I was very young I have looked at life in a creative way..guess it rubbed off from my Mum who was always making stuff out of anything. An inexpensive way to keep 5 children busy when there was not a lot of money around.

Dianne Harbin Voss Years ago, I was out for a walk in the neighborhood…I saw a whole set of whicker furniture waiting for the garbage man to come by…I RAN home, told my husband and he got in our little Mazda and drove over…after he crammed what he could… into the back of our car, tired one chair on the roof and drove with one arm out the window holding on to the other chair, (our car was a5 speed too)…it was quite a sight, let me tell you…but it was a great set and we used it for years!

Vicki Childress I love junk…. for most of the reasons listed above but most especially because of treasured memories from my past. My parents and grandparents were great at making do or remaking and repairing things. I think their efforts showed great skill and ingenuity. I remember my grandpa whittling a replacement spindle for one of their dining room chairs. He also “fixed” a leak in an old enamel washpan by covering the leak with a bit of warm wax. Today I really love having different things that remind me of those days. I was a grown woman before I understood or could begin to realize that my grandparents were very poor. I had always considered them very rich. I wish my grandpa knew that!

Melissa Pride does there have to be a “why”?? :)

Garden Whimsies by Mary I’m with you Melissa!!!

Why do YOU love junk?  ~~ Sue

Categories: Garden Art, Garden Junk, Old doors and windows, Old windows, Recycling, Rusty Rust | 10 Comments

A place for the bowling ball garden orb

Looking at our photos here I was struck (wham!) with an idea for where to place my bowling ball. Remember this old rusty peacock plant holder….well…  What do you all think?

Take one decorated bowling ball..

+ a rusty ‘peacock’ pot holder

=  a fancy peacock!

For how-to’s on decorating a bowling ball like this see this post, Garden orb of modest means.  ~~ Sue

Categories: Blue in the Garden, Garden Art, Recycling, Rusty Rust, Something fun! | Tags: | 1 Comment

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

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