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Op Shopping for Your Garden

Home > Melbourne > Frugal Friday | Gardening | Gardens | Outdoor | Shopping
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (subscribe)
Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
Published October 26th 2013
Old pottery water cooler which ended up in the op shop after it lost its lid

My addiction to op shopping for my garden started when I was walking through the sculpture courtyard outside the teahouse at the Light Factory Gallery.

When you partake of one of their delightful devonshire teas you are never served with the same cup twice no matter how many times you visit.

This is because people keep giving them interesting cups.

With so many cups and saucers some have even made there way into the garden for a display. Saucers were sticking up out of the ground in an interesting array and there was the couple of teapots balanced decoratively on the edges of garden beds.

I thought it looked 'neat" but also a cheap way to add interest to a garden.

I googled what other kitchen bits and pieces people put in their gardens and came up with this beautifully photographed pages.

If you checked the above link you will see a wall decorated with plates in all kinds of colours and patterns. It really makes a statement.

I think the statement is probably I LOVE OP SHOPPING because where else could you get such an eclectic array?

For me, the search was on. I started scouring op shops with renewed purpose and vigour -- to find interesting bits and bobs for the garden.

After all, plants will grow in all kinds of containers including cups and colanders and teapots. And it looks really neat.

This was where found items from an op shop are covering up the glue marks from when the plate fell off the wall.

For me the saucer wall idea didn't work well, great as it looked in the photographs. No matter what glue I used I couldn't quite find one that would set in the time I was prepared to stand holding that plate firmly to the wall.

I must admit to having a few slide down and smash as soon as I turned my back.

But many other things worked a treat. A few teapots look great in a garden so do old candlesticks especially artistic looking ones. Your climbers can curl their way around them to their hearts content.

In one op shop I discovered a huge wrought iron l candelabra which had small glass candle holders and could imagine them filled with plants tumbling down the edges.

As I told the lady behind the counter what I wanted it for she said "You have to find yourself some succulents. You simply put in a cutting, even the smallest bit and it will grow. You don't even need soil they will grow in water. "

I won't tell you where she told me to get those succulents. But as far as I know it is legal to grab a cutting when it hangs outside the perimeter of someone else's garden.

Plus it adds new adventures to the daily walk.

There are a few issues with kitchen items being used as planters. Items like cups and teapots don't have any drainage so you have to have to check your plantings after a heavy shower in-case they have become waterlogged. Usually it is a simply matter to pour off the excess.

You also have to pick items that you thinks are going to weather well. But when you pay op shop prices it is usually not a huge issue to replace such.

It is also good to keep your decoration ideas fairly simply or your back yard is going to end up looking like a junk heap.

There is a really nice succulent/ op shop cup type courtyard garden at the back of a new coffee shop in Richmond called The Tree of Us. They also already have a reputation for the second best burgers in Melbourne.

Old candlesticks look good in foliage

But I don't think I'd better even dare suggest where she gets her succulents.

While simplicity seems best some people have a knack for rampant artistry. The Mosaic Garden in Hawthorn by Margot Knox, which is sometimes open for the Open Garden Scheme program, is full of interesting bits of crockery she smashed down into mosaic pieces.

I was also doing a tour of Eltham galleries recently and one had one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen. It was the Jenni Mitchell studio which she runs with her husband Mervyn Hannan and there I saw a red kettle strung across a piece of string over their delightful garden.

It seems to work a lot better when a proper artist uses found objects in a garden.

It was nice to know that the practice has the endorsement of some established and professional artists.

So do you have any interesting op shop finds in your garden?

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Why? Cheap, fun and creative.
Where: Op shops in your suburb
Your Comment
Love your exterior decorating ideas - especially all those gorgeous teapots!
by Lucy (score: 3|1157) 3500 days ago
What a great article. I love scouring markets and op-shops for things to put in my daughters' fairy garden. It's very satisfying giving something a new life.
by Shannon Meyerkort (score: 3|1836) 3500 days ago
You might want to add for this weekend Ballarat has a great Spring Fest on Sunday 3rd November it goes all around Lake Wendouree it is a very east drive or train ride from Melbourne.
by grant15 (score: 1|10) 3496 days ago
Love this article - combining two of my favourite things!! And great inspiration now that the weather is warming up.
by Michelle Harrison (score: 1|10) 3492 days ago
Great ideas here and interesting article too
by EricaL (score: 3|1696) 3500 days ago
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