Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine Spring 2014

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y search began in other people's yards. Somehow the beauty of long-forgotten lawn furniture and bent watering cans and stacks of chipped clay pots spoke to me. As a girl growing up on a farm in Nor thern California, it had been a hopeless love affair with the glory of rusted tools, faded wooden shut- ters and quirky garden sculpture. My mom was a gardener. My dad was a farmer. I was a daydreamer who used their old buckets and tools as par t of a summer fantasy my sisters and I played starring roles in. On one hot August day, we were the Swiss Family Robinson. As we washed up on the shore of a make- believe island, our utensils were my parents' garden tools. From that day on, I have cherished galvanized "anything," and now rescue vintage garden treasures wherever they are found. Little did I know back then that I would one day become the forager of garden antiques. You don't have to be a gardener to love collecting old garden junk. Forget the sophisticated gardening shops for now. Roll up your sleeves and scavenge through yard sales, thrift shops, antique fairs and sal- vage yards for the weathered garden stuff that have been tossed aside long ago. It's now become very cool to transform what was once a util- itarian piece into something beautifully decorative. As with rusty iron, in their prime they served as tractor seats, wagon wheel hubs, livestock masks or metal wedges. While homeless for decades, they are now being elevated to designer status as vessels for hear ty succulents and fragrant candles. Repurposing is the new cliché word. In a recent yard sale were wonderful metal wedges, rusty oil cans and wagon wheel hubs. They can now sit proudly inside a home as the star of the show. There is so much great stuff to be found in someone's neglected gar- den. You just have to approach it with a collector's hear t. Like old wood. I have a deep-seated love for weathered wood shutters and doors. The more peeling and flaking, the better. I adore their faded paint and rusted hardware and use them as a background for old chairs or garden furni- ture. They are rarely at a yard sale. Some ambitious antique dealer usual- ly scoops these up, so your best bet is to find them at a flea market or antique fair. A good junking expedition is determined by the star ting and stopping and U-turning of your car, as you feel the pitter-patter of your hear t when you approach some wonderful old discarded garden junk at a roadside sale. There is often a military lineup of old veteran rakes, shovels, hoes and ladders saluting you. And why is there something endearing about the worn handle of someone else's well-used and loved garden shovel? Their deterioration now becomes a romantic notion of times past. Collecting vintage garden items entails a love of stuff with faded charm. There are old galva- nized chicken feeders and beat- up wheelbarrows and distressed birdcages and flower frogs being offered at flea markets, all waiting for a ride home. There's the chorus line of lit- tle wooden birdhouses and barn siding and stacks of old French terra cotta pots and distressed plant stands and the floral paintings of the no- name ar tists that constantly tempt a passionate forager. It's all in the mix. The belief in the value of all things valueless. Up and down the coast, antique shops and thrift stores often have gar- dens with some old peeling garden bench sitting there catching the ocean breeze. There's perhaps a grumpy old garden troll and a stack of crumbling pots sitting among the succulents. If you look closely, there's sometimes a chipped and cracked stone critter greeting you like an old friend. It's the neglect of a garden that creates the enchantment. So in this finely deteriorating vintage garden world, there is always something wonderful to salvage, repurpose, place on a table next to your 40 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 1 4 There is so much great stuff to be found in someone's neglected garden. You just have to approach it with a collector's heart. COLLECTING B Y M A R J O R I E S N O W Glorious Garden Junk M 040-041 Collecting_Layout 4/21/14 11:05 AM Page 1

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