Old junk can be transformed into a beautiful garden feature - just let your imagination run riot, says Kim Wilde
Today, the market for reclaimed building and architectural salvage is really blooming. In fact, burglars are as likely to be after your Victorian chinmey pots as your best silver. I've been visiting salvage yards over the past ten years and have found some bargains. An old trio of handsome reconstituted stone urns cost me 30 eight years ago en and they stilllook stuxming planted up with box balls and creeping sedum spurium.
Lassco, in the east end of London, was one of the first salvage yards I visited in the early 1980s. Based at St Michael's church in Shoreditch, it has become a mecca for salvage enthusiasts. The impressive house and garden section can be viewed in the walled garden. It holds a wide selection of wonderful reproduction cast-iron garden benches and stoneware urns.
Alternatively, why not go straight to the horse's mouth by scouring your local farm (with permission, of course!) or scrap yard? Old copper or galvanised tubs once used for washing can be found at good prices and look great stacked with marguerites, trailing petunias or a mass of violas. Recently, I used four old terracotta roof tiles and lashed them together with vine to make an openbased planter for a mass of Erigeron karvinskianus.
It's run to improvise with items that appeal to you - just remember that any container for plants needs drainage. Old wheelbarrows are popular containers for omamental plants and can be easily made into small kitchen gardens - just perfect for growing courgettes and herbs.
A firm favourite of mine are simple French caf chairs. They pack up flat for winter and the slatted wood can be painted any colour. Together with an improvised table of slate or stone on iron or brick supports, you can achieve the perfect summer location for an aftemoon sipping Pimm's.
Old butler sinks are excellent for alpine troughs or can be transformed into a water feature or bog garden. I've covered several at home with a mixture of sharp sand, cement and peat-compost substitute to create a stone-like effect (hypertufa). Small pebbles can be pressed into the cement as it dries to make attractive designs, or simply scrub the surface with a wire brush, then let it dry and apply yogurt or liquid manure to encourage mosses and lichens for an ancient stone effect.
For me, the garden is a perfect environment for sculptures and omaments as light changes their appearance constantly and the elements give them character. Place favourite pieces. in unexpected places, even if it's only you who finds them, as they'll always be a welcome surprise.
- Lassco, Mark Street (off Paul Street), London EC2A 4ER (020 7749 9944). Or log on to www.lassco.co.uk.
- Culios garden and Interiors, 13Oc Junctlon Road, London N19 5LB (020 7272 5603)
- Walcot Reclamatlon, 108 Walcot Street, Bath BA 1 5BG (01225 444404)
- Architectural Reclaim, Theobalds Park Road, Crewes Hill, Enfleld, EN2 9BG (020 8367 1666)
- Pew Comer, Artlngton Manor Farm, Old Portsmouth Road, Guildford, Surrey GU3 1LP (01483 533337)
- Robert Mllls, Narroways Road, Eastville, Brlstol BS2 9XB (0117 955 6542)
- Architectural Antiques, 70 Pembroke Street, Bedford, Bedfordshire NK40 3RQ (01234 213131)
- Andy Thornton Antiques, VIctoria Mllls. Stainland Road, Greetland, Halifax, West Yorkshlre HX4 8AD (01422 377314)
- Great Northern Architectural Antiques, New Russia Hall, Chester Road, Tattenhall, Chester, Cheshire CH3 9AH (01829 770796)
- Cotswold Reclamatlon Company, Unit 2, Sandy Lane, Little Rissington. Gloucester, Gloucestershire GL54 2NF (01451 820292)
- Edinburgh Architectural Salvage Yard (EASY), 6 Couper Street, Edinburgh EH6 6HH (0131 5547077)
Things to do in October
Put tallen leaves to good use (below) and make leaf mould, which helps plants thrive. Put the leaves into a binliner with a tew holes in it, leaving them to rot down tor several months.
Now is the ideal time to lay turf. Prepare the soil by raking it over to a tine consistency, tirming it and laying the turf on top, preterably on the day you buy it. Lay the tirst row ot turf, then place a plank over this to kneel on to lay the second row, and so on. Stagger turf joints and water well.
Cut asparagus toliage down to ground level as soon as it turns brown. Remove any plants that have berries, as these are female and produce weaker shoots.
Don't forget to plant tulip bulbs this month.
Flowers for free
Collecting and growing seeds from plants in your own garden is immensely satisfying and a money saver. You might even produce a new variety or hybrid of a favourite plant, as plants grown from seed can mutate slightly from their parent. It's also fun to swap seeds with your friends and neighbours.
With larger plants, such as sunflowers or hollyhocks, just pick off the seed-head when it has turned brown. For smaller seeds, such as poppies and nigella, tie a paper bag around the seedhead just before it ripens. This will make sure the seeds don't get scattered before you're ready to collect them.
I'd choose this lovely, galvanised watering can over a run-of-the-mill plastic one any day! As an added bonus, you also get a galvanised fork and trowel as well, 29.50 for the set, available from John Lewis (020 7629 7711).
Q: My Cymbidium orchid seemed to be thriving on my kitchen windowsill until suddenly the flowers and buds turned brown and fell off. What did I do wrong?
A: Your orchid flowers were either a victim of draughts or were killed of by fluctuating high daytime and low nighttime temperatures. It's always best to keep them in a bright spot away from draughty windows. You may also have overwatered it.
Garden of the month
Cliveden, Taplow, Maidenhead SL6 0JA
(01628 605069). This opulent 10-acre garden provides a sunny backdrop to Cliveden, which is now a luxurious hotel. The garden is owned and maintained by the National Trust and has beautiful views down to the river Thames.
What's in bloom
Colchicum agrippinum is an autumn crocus with pretty lavenderpink flowers that look spectacular planted in drifts. Beautiful Rosa Moyesli 'Geranium' is a huge rose, with deep red flowers in summer and striking red hips in autumn.