At the end of the season there are always stalks and branches to be had. And when these are used in the right setting they become a valuable tool for exploiting color, form and contrast. Nowhere is this more doable than in the southwest when the agaves send up their enormous stalks to flower. Some types of yucca do the same and dasilirion, also known as the desert spoon is another contender. All too often these architectural byproducts of plants are chipped, crushed and thrown into the garbage, but if dried and preserved they make outstanding free outdoor decorations. This beautiful example of repurposed agave stalks illustrates how leftover paint can be put to good use. Note the turquoise window trim on the upper right of this photo. The paint left over was used to create a “wash” over well dried agave stalks. A wash is created with ordinary latex paint thinned down with water to create a more semitransparent stain-like application. If the stalk was simply painted, it would be far too uniform. The aged look shown here allows the original surface with its flakes and peels to show through. That is an artificial patina that can be created on any kind of twig, in this case to lend the Santa Fe look when set against a solid colored wall. This high contrast approach is the perfect way to add interest to nooks and crannies of architecture.
A little paint, some beads and flickery bulbs is a small budget gardener’s delight! This fab idea turns an otherwise ugly cast off dining room light fixture into the focal point of the porch. In a garden with little bright color, this hot pink painted beauty shows you how far to push your paint to create world class accents. Above all it casts the most romantic evening light with the flickering flame-like bulbs which give it powerful pizzaz. With about a thousand different light bulbs to choose from, imagine painting any light fixture from sleek modern to baroque for your own unique look and color sense. Cheap, easy to install and totally creative, this is how a small budget gardener can create one of a kind garden design.