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Gardening Project: Grandparents’ Antique Washtubs become Fall Planters

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gf11For the past two years I’ve been telling people that my first job is that of being a a father – The Rock Father – to my little daughter. Everything else I do is secondary, whether it be my normal gig in being a jerk on the music side of this website, directing videos, or whatever other adventures happen to come my way. During the daytime (when weather allows), the little one and I can usually be found outside, spending time in our ever-expanding garden. From vegetables to flowers, annuals to perennials, we spend time together while learning and sharing in a variety of plant-based adventures and projects. With Fall fast-approaching, we’ve already begun turning our spring and summer flowerbeds, planters, and hanging baskets into arrangements best-suited for what happens to me my personal favorite of all the seasons. For this particular project, there’s a little family history involved for us, but it’s something that any of you can do as well.

Earlier this summer, my mother-in-law asked if I’d be interested in an oval-shaped galvanized tub that belonged to her late father – an avid urban gardener who maintained a greenhouse behind his home within the city limits of Chicago – my little one’s Great Grandfather. Of course I said “yes.” She brought it to us in August, so on 8/22, the little one and I did the first part of this project.

gf1Having already begun our Fall planting in the front flower beds a few days earlier with some hardy mums purchased at a local, independent garden center (where they only stock larger mums), the little one and I took an early afternoon trip to Home Depot for some smaller, 1qt plants to fill out the galvanized tub, along with some additional plants to re-do six hanging baskets that we’ve been re-potting with each season. For the tub, we went with an assortment of five mums, accented with three Dusty Millers that were salvaged from one of our summer baskets.

The finished project can be viewed below…

The Great-Grandfather Arrangement:

  • -Five 1 Qt. Hardy Mums
  • -Three individual Dusty Millers (re-used from spring hanging basket)
  • -1.5cu ft Bag of Miracle-Gro Potting Mix

After showing the end result to all of the Grandparents, my Mom reminded me of something I hadn’t thought of in years – a #3 galvanized washtub that one belonged to my late Grandmother – who, along with my Grandfather maintained a vast farm south of Chicago – was hanging in my Mom’s garage. After picking that one up, it was time to do another arrangement.

gf3aA #3 Washtub is a traditional, Emmet Otter-style tub. While it took the same number of mums to pull this one off (albeit a bit cheaper this time due to a sale at Home Depot), it took almost twice as much potting mix.

We made this one today, and the finished project can be viewed below…

The Great-Grandmother Arrangement:

  • -Five 1 Qt. Hardy Mums
  • -One Accent Plant
  • -1 1/2 1.5cu ft Bags of Miracle-Gro Potting Mix

While there’s a value for little one (although she doesn’t understand it yet) to having these artifacts from Great Grandparents that she’ll never meet from both Mommy and Daddy’s sides of the family in her garden, turning an antique container into a garden planter is something fun and easy that any of you can make happen. If you can find a true antique planter somewhere, by all means grab it – though they don’t appear to always come cheap. As an alternative, a number of retailers sell modern versions that have the same shapes and construction, but bear a shiny-newness instead of the dull, retro-look. Averaging about $25 each new, this entire project should run you about $40-$50 give or take. In our case, since the containers were free, each arrangement cost less than $20 and made for a pair of great Father/Daughter afternoons.

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