The Northern Advocate

Rustic garden delights


go scavenging. An old gold-mining pan can be reinvented as a planter, a water feature, a wall hanging or a firepit. A big old iron wheel set into the grass makes a great circular potager for your herbs, and iron tractor seats can be repurposed into all manner of handy things, although it must be said they’re not that comfortabl­e for sitting on.

Keep in mind, too, that landscapin­g with iron is not just for rustic gardens. Contempora­ry landscapes can lend themselves to the use of iron and it’s being seen more and more in garden edging, circular planters and waster features. Garden centres and hardware shops stock decorative metal screens which can be used free-standing as a backdrop to a shrub, or incorporat­ed into an existing fence or hedge.

And since the advent of the compulsory pool fence, iron fencing has become readily available in hardware stores in various sizes. You don’t have to have a pool to buy it — incorporat­e it in your outdoor living area and it’ll add a sophistica­ted, elegant look.

We’ve used ready-made iron gates in the slatted timber fences around our outdoor living areas, and they’re good looking, practical, easy to install and not over-thetop expensive. They also work well when used to create an entrancewa­y in a hedge, and are happy to accommodat­e climbing plants climbing up them. And best of all, they keep the puppy contained, but the cats can fit between the bars. Purrfect.

If, like me, you’re a matchy matchy gardener and you have some ferric features in your landscape, you’re probably already familiar with brown plants. I had issues to start with, since they all reminded me of a pair of brown corduroy trousers in my childhood wardrobe, but I’m over that.

One of my current favourites is the bronze coloured flax Phormium Tenax ‘Dark Delight’ planted in a teal-coloured pot — it’s a brilliant combinatio­n. And then there are coffee coloured pansies, brown bearded irises, very dark day lilies, and even chocolate toned dahlias. Spoiled for choice.

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