Green in your garden is about more than flowers, fruits and foliage.
It's also about eco-friendly gardening, which includes recycling whenever and whatever you can.
For instance, your daily newspaper makes an excellent weed-deterring material in beds. Most publishers, including the Daily Press, use organic pigments that are safe and decompose. Place six to eight layers of newsprint over bare soil that you first weeded. Wet the newspaper with a hose, and then top dress with attractive wood mulch. Use cardboard from leftover boxes for stubborn spots.
In addition, the plastic bag that keeps your newspaper dry is good for picking up pet waste and disposing of it in the trash. I use newspaper bags to pick up pine cones that bombard my lawn.
On a grander scale, items like rusted-out wagons, empty barrels, abandoned tubs and sinks, cracked jugs, old bikes, worn-out shoes and even damaged crab pots can be recycled into flower containers or garden art.
To jump start your imagination, I invited several local garden centers to show how ordinary items become extraordinary sights when you use plants in various sizes and colors. You'll also find extra examples of these recycling projects at my gardening blog – http://www.dailypress.com/digginblog.
by Countryside Gardens, Hampton; 722-9909
2 pink zinnias
1 yellow celosia
1 red celosia
1 dark red sun coleus
2 Margarita sweet potato vines
1 amaranthus, also called "summer poinsettia"
1 Japanese blood grass
1 Acalypha wilkesiana, also called "copper plant"
1 Ruby Frost coreopsis
Using an antique double-sink washtub, Beverly Hamrick creates a flowing floral display that is sure to stop traffic. When you work with any container, always use a good quality potting mix, not garden soil because it's too heavy.
"I used the Fafard Complete Container Mix potting soil because it has time-released fertilizers and soil-moist crystals for water retention in it so you don't have to water quite as much," says Beverly.
"The wash tub was perfect since it had a drain hole in both sides and no drilling was necessary."
To make it: So the washtub is not permanently planted, Beverly inserts 3 large soft-plastic pots into each side, and uses potting mix to partially fill them.
Carefully removing each plant from its pot, rootball intact, she places the tallest plants (blood grass and coreopsis) in the center of each sink, slightly toward the back. Smaller plants are placed around them, trailing plants at the edges so they spill over and soften the look.
Before final planting, visually inspect how you have the plants arranged so you are pleased with the look. Step back, inspect and rearrange. Once you like where the plants are positioned, place each plant in the potting soil and firm with more soil around the roots.
Tip: You can leave plants in their original pots and merely arrange them in the washtub, remembering to water daily during hot weather. This method allows you to easily make seasonal displays.
by McDonald Garden Center, Hampton; 722-7463
1 old lawn spreader
1 cubic-foot bag McDonald Potting Mix
1 five-pound bag Greenleaf Fertilizer 12-4-8 (1/2 cup used in planter)
1 Solenia begonia
2 Mezoo Trailing Red
1 12-by-6-inch piece of weed fabric
To make it: Line the spreader portion with weed fabric to prevent soil from falling out of the spreader and to allow proper water drainage.
Fill the spreader with potting mix and fertilizer.
Plant the Solenia begonia in the middle as the "thriller." Plant two petunias to the left and right of the begonia as the filler. Plant Mezoo Trailing Red as the spiller.
Fourth of July Wagon
by Ken Matthews Garden Center, York County; 898-7799
1 vintage wagon
1 three-gallon Rose of Sharon Satin Blue
2 three-gallon Flower Carpet Scarlet roses
3-4 six-inch Dusty Millers
4-5 six-inch pots variegated ivy
1 garden flag stake and patriotic flag
To make it: Keep plants in pots.
Arrange in wagon with Rose of Sharon in rear, Flower Carpet roses positioned to front and side; work in Dusty Miller and ivy toward front of wagon.
Stick flag stake and patriotic flag in a plant pot.
Water plants daily.
Tip: You could add stems of white-flowering Annabelle hydrangea to the red, white and blue scheme.
Plant everything in your garden after flowers fade (Flower Carpet roses bloom 'til frost) so you can create a different floral scene in the wagon. Think butterfly-attracting plants for mid- to late-summer.