Waste Not Want Not: The art of up-cycling

Published on September 21st 2018
The garden is an ideal place to experiment with recycling broken and unwanted items. Many objects can have attractive second lives as a plant pot, thereby reducing the amount of virgin plastic brought into the garden.
I’ve seen some beautiful displays in discarded cups, teapots and colanders, outgrown wellington boots, even old sinks and toilets! Unused bicycles can act as eye-catching supports for plant containers – and the bicycle basket used to grow annual flowers or herbs.
My aunt upcycles old chairs by removing the seat bases - she adds containers and uses them as planters.
Yesterday I spotted another innovative reuse of unwanted items - on a walk round Northampton town centre I spotted a line of assorted high-heeled shoes stuck between the railings of St Giles’ Church, filled with succulents. This unusual display added real charm to what was otherwise a rather drab walkway.
Any receptacle is a potential flowerpot provided it has holes added to the bottom for drainage. This happened naturally last summer when I accidentally shut the car boot on the children’s bucket and spade sets, cracking both of the buckets.
To avoid choruses of ‘There’s a Hole in my Bucket’ at the beach this year, we borrowed Gran and Grandad’s buckets and repurposed our cracked ones in the garden.
In the spring the kids sowed a range of fruit and vegetable seeds and we planted their cucumbers into the buckets when we potted them on in June. The pink and orange pots are now adding a cheerful pop of colour under the slide and the plants are trailing enthusiastically up the side of the climbing frame.
We’ve been pleased with the fruits – so many that we’ve had to make tzatziki – which the kids thought was delicious. Even better, we’ve reduced our plastic waste going to landfill and we’re now looking for more recycling projects for next year.

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