Recycling plastic

© Media General. “In the Garden” by Mary Garner-Mitchell. Acrylic air brush, watercolor, pencil on paper. Editorial illustration for gardening article.

I was searching for just the right quote to fill the void in my “recycled” watering can illustration, when I came across the 18th-century lines above. While they speak to everything I feel in my bones about two of my passions (art and gardening), one word gave me great pause:   Plastic?  Plastic spade? What, a Colonial Walmart selling crappy tools?

Indeed, I have a love/hate relationship with plastic in general. Mostly hate. I curse its existence every time I go to open any overly-protected-over-packaged-off-the-shelf product, or realize our plastic recycling bins are (once again) overflowing.  I know it’s never going away, literally — as a noun that is.

Which brings me around to my love/hate relationship with words. I often I find the English language just plain stupefying and as I stumbled today, I wonder how anyone learns it completely.  Of course, I am fully aware Mr. Mason’s now antique description is just one example of how our pliable vocabulary bends and stretches over the centuries. But his use of “plastic” made me realize how far down the definition chain this otherwise perfectly placed adjective has fallen. In the context of this quote, it is at the very bottom!

plastic  adj. — being able to create, especially within an art form; having the power to give form or formal expression: (the plastic imagination of great poets and composers.)

“Write” on! How can I hate such a great word? Plastic: reclaimed, reused, recycled!

Compost happens …

© Mary Garner-Mitchell. Dual compost bins my birthday gift several years ago built by my kind and sweet husband, Chip Mitchell. I grow great dirt!

I wish I could take credit for that headline, but I can’t.  It was a bumper sticker included in a press kit I received when HGTV first came on the scene years ago. A really cool press kit, too, as I recall, with little pencils made from twigs and a pocket folder made of great corrugated paper stock in a warm, red brick color on one side, and cream on the other. I went around the newsroom trash bins collecting those that got tossed. I was always scavenging for “supplies” that others routinely pitched. Still do. But I digress…

This being Monday, and a not-so-good Monday at that, I thought this particular image of my compost bins was appropriate.  Arguing with off-shore folks at Avis rent-a-car, an unexpected ER bill (false alarm, Chip was fine), chasing a long-overdue invoice, topped off with the realization a back-up hard drive has gone to … well, “compost,”  has made this Monday one to forget.  I believe I’ll pretend I’m a cat, dig a hole and bury it.  On the upside, this extremely hot spell followed by a soaking thunderstorm last night has my compost a-cookin’ good! That’s the “done” pile on the left. Martha would be proud.

Estate Sale Rehab

Concrete folk art bird was once painted red like his brother. A round mound perch of cement studded with river rock plants him firmly on the porch rail. © Mary Garner-Mitchell

I’m just coming off the high of Friday’s estate sale. The rush extended through the weekend in what I like to call a “Piddle Party.”  This is when I excuse myself from the typical weekend house chores and focus on getting creative in the garden and/or in the barn with my found objects and junk. So, my new treasures didn’t disappoint as I got to work early Saturday morning cleaning and scheming without an iota of buyer’s regret!  The concrete birds are perched on the deck for now, but I’m sure will flit here and there (as much as concrete birds might) as the months go by.  The most transformed item was what was left of a twig table I had culled from the trash in the estate sale barn. Off-kilter and wobbly, its three legs were all different lengths and it was missing a couple of “teeth” along it’s top. All the stretchers were missing save one that was broken.  I went to my store of sticks and easily replaced and secured all parts.  The burled ones came from a creek bed at Nancy Hugo’s Flower Camp, in Howardsville, VA.  I knew they would eventually find a home one day, and they complete this now sound rustic table. For the tabletop, one of the slate shingles (salvaged two summers ago when our local train station was re-roofed) was an easy fit with a single cut. I won’t go into detail on other “rehabs”, except to say that all cleaned up rather nicely and seem to be happy in their new home!

Miscellaneous found objects welcome “Red” — brother to concrete folk art bird — make up an ever-changing tableaux on my porch bench. © Mary Garner-Mitchell

Surely bound for the dump, a twig table found a new home and new life. All it took was a few prized sticks, a slate shingle for a top and a little spar varnish! © Mary Garner-Mitchell

Garden & Fun

Photo © Mary Garner-Mitchell

 

One of my absolute MOST mind-calming things to do, besides gardening is to spend an afternoon in the barn plundering through my found objects and turning them into something “new” and useful.  My Flower Throne was built in such a fashion from parts I had collected over several years. The shield back was an alley find from two decades back when we lived in the Fan; the round center piece is from a broken brass plant trivet; cabriole legs and miscellaneous ornaments amongst a box of treasures purchased at auction for a buck; and the framed base from old moldings that came with the barn when we purchased Stagfield. Two dismembered wire baskets form the “innards” and corral the soil and plants with the help of a scrap piece of Astroturf! I hit it with some leftover white paint and this year planted in all white verbena and New Guinea impatiens.  Somewhere I have photos from previous, more colorful years, before the original harp design in the back rotted out and had to be replaced with the trivet!  I think up these sorts of things on those nights when sleep escapes me. If I had good lighting in the barn, I’d just get up build something.  But alas, I must wait for daylight and a day when the garden or office isn’t calling!

“… In Hanover, it’s an art.”

Hanover County, Virginia is famous for its tomatoes. This year, if the weather keeps up, we’re expecting a bumper crop. The anticipation of these beauties coming in is almost more than I can bear at times, especially when my vines are just up and coming. Some hot days and warm nights will bring them along soon enough though. Then bring on the mayonnaise, bread and lettuce! (Bacon is optional … actually so is the mayo, lettuce and bread.)

“Botanically, it’s a berry. In Hanover, it’s an art.”