Gardener's Grapevine 2013.03.13

Written by David Green.

It’s a beautiful Sunday, and has been a beautiful weekend through and through. Yesterday Art and I went with our daughter Jacquie and son-in-law Henry to Detroit for baby furniture at Ikea. Prior to going to this giant store we made a few side stops for the fun of it and to fill our tummies.

Art and I watch a show on Saturdays called Under the Radar Michigan on PBS and in one episode they covered places to see in and around Detroit. One place was Motz’s Burgers on Fort Street. This is one of the oldest sliders restaurants in the country and did it ever live up to its reputation as the best! They serve more than sliders and it is so worth the trip. According to our group it was in a “bad area," but everyone we encountered was nice and the food was great.

Across the street was an enormous produce distribution plant. It was crazy big, as in one building was as big as our entire downtown area. With the lineup of semi-trucks and panel trucks it must have an amazing amount of produce inside. Just thinking of the growers behind all that produce made me smile. Think of the trip each head of lettuce has taken and the trip it still has until someone eats it. For being in a forlorn section of Detroit, the building did not look unclean and it had some lovely art deco stonework on the front. Eating sliders and thinking of gardening—can it get better?

We also visited a little place in Farmington Hills called Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum. It was awesome, also—one man’s collection of arcade and whimsical animated figures and machines. They included old arcade flip book picture machines, all kinds of arcade games from the 1800s forward and you could put in a quarter or two and see how they worked. It was a real trip back in time.

We then headed to Ikea and what a change. From old items that took lots of brain power to produce and make functional to the sparse commercialism of mass marketed items. Ikea has a gardening area and if you are in the market for some inexpensive, fairly good quality outdoor furniture or flower pots or things along that line, it is your go-to destination. I am not a big fan of mass production garden products. I like to repurpose or use artistic items. I stood in their garden area and thought, anyone could have a tidy neat little garden with this, but where would the individuality be?

I loved that my kids chose baby furniture that was not just in the baby section and had a bit of non-baby flare to it. The little fellow can grow with it, and with good care, take it with him when he heads off to his own place.

I spent some time last evening on the drive home thinking how yesterday’s castoffs still have meaning and use. I have had the idea for a long time to make a bench for the outside of our church out of an old bed frame. We have an area that is hard to get anything to grow in because the heat is so extreme off the concrete and sandstone. So an ornate place to sit is just the ticket, with maybe a pot of flowers off to the side that can be replenished without breaking the bank. Since I have come up with this idea I have seen so many swings and benches made from old beds.

I searched on-line for more repurposing ideas and came up with some great sites that might interest some of you that read this column. Try eHowhome and type in making garden décor from recycled junk, or homeguides.sfgate.com/reusehouseholditems, thefrugalhomemaker.com and of course the Queen of all idea sites, Pinterest.

Gardening should be fun and while the muddy spring rains and thaws keep us from the dirt, spend some time looking for an idea you can use to pop your space.

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