You may be among the many longtime gardeners hanging on to a special piece of garden decoration, container or art that’s reached the point of either being refurbished or tossed.
We fondly become attached to special items and can’t bear to just get rid of them, yet aren’t comfortable with how they look in their present less-than-spiffy conditions either.
In my case, it was an antique European hand cart that I’ve enjoyed for nearly 20 years. Every summer, near our front door, it becomes the focal point, brimming over with an array of colorful annuals and greenery.
I’m told European immigrants used carts like this for hauling their few possessions when moving or for taking produce to market. Similar carts were used for hauling ore out of Belgian mines. Carts were pulled by people, others by dogs or even goats.
After I bought my cart, I lined it with clear plastic sheeting, adding holes through the wood in the bottom for drainage. This provided at least some protection for the structure. But rain and the elements aged it. The tongue eventually rotted through, and bottom boards were replaced. The final straw happened when wood holding the vertical side rungs deteriorated.
Time for some drastic renovation.
First came removal of the rotted wood. My husband, Pat, cut new wood supports for areas in need and replaced the old. Any visible new wood was lightly stained to look similar to the original pieces — lots of gray, as well as a bit of brown stain.
We jettisoned the tongue.
After reworking the basic structure, we drilled a big fat drainage hole in the bottom and imbedded a small aluminum can, open at both ends, so drainage wouldn’t come in contact with any wood.
Then I fiberglassed the entire inside of the cart, completely sealing off the interior from damp soil and plants.
It still takes the rigors of winter — cold, freezing, sporadic rain —but no constant water puddling on the inside while it holds conifer branches for winter decoration.
Perhaps our redoing this old cart will encourage you to brainstorm how to redo something you can’t bear to part with, yet can’t abide with in its present appearance either.
A WSU Master Gardeners of Chelan County column appears regularly in the At Home section. Mary Fran McClure is one of three columnists featured.