Meeting Marie Niemann

Marie Niemann lives and gardens in Zone 5b Northern Utah with her husband and two little dogs, Tucker and Scooter. Marie says,  “When I discovered Flea Market Gardening last year I was amazed to find other people that were just like me! I thought I was the only one! I found folks that also loved old junkola and rust and using odd and unique items in their gardens. I was home!”

“I’ve been frugal all my life and practiced upcycling long before it was popular. I love to shop thrift stores and flea markets looking for more unusual items I can use in my home and gardens. I’m learning a lot from all of the wonderful people that share ideas and photos on FMG and now have a few projects I can’t wait to try.  We are still Desert Rats and love to camp in the desert every chance we get. The desert sun and solitude is what we crave where you might not see another human being for days on end. You can take the Desert Rats out of the desert, but you can’t take the love of the desert out of our blood.”

“I fell in love with the desert back in the early 70’s when my husband and I lived in northern Nevada on five acres of sagebrush and huge tumbleweeds. We loved driving on dirt roads in an old 52 Dodge pickup and exploring old abandoned mines. Living out there where you can hear the coyotes at night and see a million stars is something you never forget.”

Tucker and Scooter, or Scooter and Tucker

“Now we live in northern Utah in a wonderful old home nestled below a beautiful mountain range with our dogs. We have a very small lot with limited garden space, so I have to be a little more creative and do a lot of container gardening. I still have my desert treasures all around me that bring me a lot of joy inside and out.” Marie says, “Some of my favorite containers are old bullet ridden galvanized buckets where I plant colorful happy annuals.”

Marie is a junkin’ queen and often posts her Flea market and yard sale finds on the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page. Many of these end up in the album called “Look at This Cool Thing…Now WHAT can I Do With It?”  Marie says, “Some of my favorite containers are old bullet ridden galvanized buckets where I plant colorful happy annuals.

Marie's veggie garden

Because of the short growing season here in Zone 5b, I start seeds in a cold frame while the temps still dip into the teens at night and where a late spring snowstorm is common. It’s fun to challenge Mother Nature a little so I can get a head start on my salsa garden. If I could only plant one veggie, it would be a tomato plant.”

Marie's 'maters'

“I learned back then that you couldn’t grow a tomato in sand. I started reading gardening books and magazines and soon learned how to improve the sand into a rich soil that would produce healthy edible plants. I’m still so appreciative of eating something that I grew from a seed. You just can’t beat the flavor of a homegrown mater.”

The end results after broken insulators are tumbled. Rust and the cool aqua colors of tumbled glass go together well! 

Marie has a collection of glass insulators that she uses to decorate her garden.  They go very well with rust! She puts any broken ones in a rock tumbler.  She says, “I first break the glass into smaller pieces, uniform in size. Then fill the tumbler, a Thumbler’s Tumbler, 1/3 full of the glass chunks, add water and sand or grit. I put a half a cup of sand in. I run them for a week, then change the water and add new sand and run until I get the desired look to resemble sea or beach glass, usually about another week.

Meet our scarecrow Mr. T. He's created mostly from 1910 Model T parts, thus Mr. Model T. His legs are rear axles and differential gears, his arms are wishbone's also from a Model T, and his fingers are axle bearings and he even has a heart. Designed and created by my husband, Randy Niemann.

Marie enjoys the holidays and she and her husband thought up a fantastic idea to celebrate Halloween. They assembled Mr “T” from old Model T parts! At Christmas, she found this idea (below) to make ice candles.

Ice Candles

“Ice candles are really easy! Fill a container that can be frozen either outside or in your freezer. You can use a bucket or something smaller like a Jello mold. Place a glass filled with rocks or marbles in the center to create a spot for your candle, making sure the glass sticks up above the water level. Add anything you’d like to the water for decorations. Freeze and enjoy! Fire and Ice!”

Marie's latest project

“The clean fresh aroma of the desert after a summer rain smells so wonderful as it brings the fragrance of sage to life. The much appreciated moisture settles the dust and the birds and even the insects seem to sing and dance with joy. My love of junk really began when I discovered we had an old dump right next to our home. While some women might be inside on a hot summer afternoon watching a soap opera or baking bread, I would put the kids down for a nap and would be happily digging up old bottles and rusty treasures. It was such a thrill to find a bottle that wasn’t broken!”

We’re thrilled to know you, Marie, and will be waiting for your next project.  ~~ Sue

See MORE of Marie’s photos…

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