Garden Designers Roundtable: Cheap and Chic

by Andrew Keys on December 18, 2012

And now we take a short break from the Gardening Rocks 2012 Advent Calendar for Garden Designers Roundtable. Yes, I’ll be posting more music later today.

It’s an old, old story at this point… I couldn’t pass up that huge sign on the side of the highway that said BRASS. Did I know what I was going to use it for? Of course not. But someone had gone to the trouble to pull it off the road after the first time I passed by, and neatly lean it up against a road sign, right by the exit. All I had to do was loop around, pull off for five seconds, and grab it. The cosmos said so.

Why yes, my habit for picking things like this has been questioned at every turn–some have even called me Sanford–but I’m not a packrat. I’m actually very choosy, ESPECIALLY if I’m paying for something, because I don’t like stuff lying around collecting dust. (Unless that’s what it was meant to do, obvi.)


Did my neighbor look askance when I took the light fixture she didn’t think was fit for the yard sale? Yep. And she didn’t recognize it at the party I had this summer.


Did people roll their eyes when I dragged home a half dozen piano legs I got at the local flea market for $1 each? Sure did. Until they showed up in my front garden. A few coats of red spray paint makes all the difference, dontcha know.

Lobster-Floats-PortraitI wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with those lobster floats until I saw this on Pinterest. Maybe this isn’t quite as chic–I like to think of it as seafaring chic. What am I getting at, exactly? It’s that I believe that, when it comes to garden ornaments, you’ve got to have a little BRASS. Experiment a little. And don’t overpay (or pay at all) for that experimental stuff. If it turns out you hate that piano leg, even WITH a coat of red spray paint, take it back to the guy at the flea market! Or offer it to your neighbor. Odds are she may have changed her mind at that point…

Check out what cheap and chic solutions my fellow roundtablers have come up with:

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ
Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI
Rochelle Greayer : Studio ‘g’ : Boston, MA

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