Make Flowers, Not War

By Bonnie Grant | December 18, 2022
Image by Cindy Shebley
by Bonnie Grant
December 18, 2022

I’m always using random junk I find to use for plants. Out in the sticks there are no shopping malls and I am averse to using mail order too much, preferring to support small businesses when I can. So I am stuck with being creative with DIY planters. Almost any item fills my head with planter ideas, but I have one which I have cherished for over a decade.

We have a friend who was in the Iraq war. He served honorably as a mechanic and came back a changed person. He also came back with some items he had acquired in his tour of duty. One of these items he gifted to me and I decided to do something decidedly different with it than its original purpose.

Beat Up Beauty

It just so happened we were visiting him one spring and I spied an old, beat up, semi-rusty metal tool box. The thing seemed magically imbued with charm to my eyes, and I asked for it. He readily agreed, and in moments it was my new prized possession. Unbeknownst to him, we had gone spring plant shopping prior to our visit, and the car was filled with goodies. The sight of this old tool box sent visions of beauty racing through my brain.

When we got home, I had to find a metal drill bit and make some holes in this interesting item because, of course, it was going to be a planter. Upcycling in the garden is quite hip nowadays, but it wasn’t always the case. I am cheap, however, and have always found the whimsy in discarded items.

Potting mix went into the box followed by some pretty annual flowers. They bloomed until the cold season when I emptied the tool box and stored it in the garage.

The next year, I again installed flowers and got many compliments on the odd planter. By year three, I did something new. I put in hens and chicks culled from a large patch in the garden. The effect was appealing and is still what lives in the tool box. I now leave it outdoors year around and the tool box only gets more rustic. The hens and chicks are a perfect foil for the beat up box and their blooms brighten the whole effect. They spread and filled in the container with no room to spare, but they seem quite happy to be packed in like sardines. I have taken a pup or two for other installations, which doesn’t bother the plants at all.

This One is Special

I have many odd planters that I use. I “stole” a metal washtub from the neighboring abandoned home’s yard and use it for a variety of flowers. It didn’t need holes drilled in it because it had a drain which works sufficiently. This vertical planter is fun because it raises the flowers up for closer viewing. But my favorite DIY planter is still that old tool box. I honor where it once was and our friend’s service every time I see it. However, I think it makes a better plant home than an instrument to continue war.

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