Gardening: Always room for more

By Leigh Bramwell


Because our house is about as big as a child's handkerchief I am continually frustrated by the lack of space to display collectibles.

There's a very finite line between enough and too much, and right now even a stray cicada can push my living room over the edge.

If that makes it sound as if we live in a clutter, not so. The decor is necessarily sparse and I am occasionally tempted to put the cats outside because they ruin the minimalist look.

Fortunately, none of these rules apply to the garden, where I can collect and display to my heart's content. I have plenty of space in which to create special areas for collections of all manner of weird things.

There's an ancient iron lawn roller that The Landscaper bought for far too much money. He thought he was actually going to use it but instead he left it beside the shed where, over time, it killed the piece of lawn it was sitting on. Later, it inadvertently formed the basis for what has now become an appealing little corner of rural relics.

With the help of a couple of brawny mates (I can't imagine how The Landscaper ever thought he would be able to push it on his own) we dragged it to its new location in the shade of a tree fern, and waited to see what would happen next.

What happened was that an old piece of rusty chain that had been lying in the carport for months was dragged down to join it, followed by one of those iron-ended garden seats, and half a wine barrel.

The Landscaper, who was far from interested in hauling heavy iron things around the property, became hugely enthused at the idea of having plants in the barrel and headed off to the garden centre for half a dozen gypsophila and a lomandra.

If, like me, you have eyes with spirit-levels in them and everything has to be perfectly positioned within a millimetre or two, don't collect things made of iron. Your brawny pals will soon tire of shifting them "just a couple of centimetres to the left - no, not that far, back a bit, forward a bit, just tilt it over a tad ... there".

Collections are not limited to those who have large, rural properties. Those with contemporary gardens or small, urban spaces can still amass decorative items.

Ceramics, wall hangings, carvings and pieces of art or sculpture are a great starting point because they're easy to find in all sorts of shapes, designs and prices. School art shows, garage sales and craft markets are happy hunting grounds. You can tie your pieces together by style, material or colour, or just choose what you like and have a totally random collection of objet d'art.

If you're not the sort of person who loves dusty old junk shops, there's plenty of stuff to buy in garden accessory shops, garden centres, galleries and even hardware stores - all will yield up some great finds.

Failing that, scan garden magazines and books for the motivation to make your own. I'm exploring that option because I have it in my head to make a sculpture walk alongside our stream, and chances are I'm not going to be populating it with the works of Paul Dibble, Chris Booth or Mark Hill - not that I wouldn't like to. If I did, I certainly wouldn't be moaning about how hard it was to get the mower around them.

- Hamilton News

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