Precast concrete stepping stones are gardeners’ best buys at the big box. Standard foot- square steppers cost just $1.34 each, and at that price you can make this tower for under $10. Make it taller for slightly more. Create a pair to frame a view for under $20!. Top with a planted bowl or a sculpture or create a collection of cool objects you can rearrange each day. Oh, and did I tell you it makes a seat too? No footing and no mortar means it disassembles to move with renters. Homeowners, can up the ante with color by saturating like stain with watered-down latex paint. Concrete sucks it up like a sponge. A perfect one day project for pennies that looks like a million bucks.
Small budget gardeners love artichokes because they are intensely beautiful, long lived and edible. These 2-for-1 plants offer so many benefits your investment in buying them today is quickly covered by what they contribute in the garden and kitchen. Since they are perennial, the plant returns year after year to produce a larger foliage mass and more numerous stems. We have all seen the globe shaped heads in the supermarket, but few have seen where theses come from. These great perennials hardy to Zone 7 produce beautiful gray-green lobed leaves that are fabulous foliage in their own right, fitting nicely into beds and borders like an ornamental. They’re a graphic favorite of art nouveau design and look particularly wonderful as accents in Mediterranean style pots! When the plant bloom they send up a thick stem topped with a flower bud, which is the edible artichoke. If not picked in bud stage for eating, this bud matures into an enormous purple tufted thistle-like flower. If you’ve never grown one, try it this year in ground or in pots to enjoy a plant that offers so much beauty, of foliage and flower, while feeding your family this gourmet veggie the kids will love.