The Ice Storm of the Century, as some called it, left behind two inches of ice on my thirty-year-old maple tree in the back yard. The ice remained for ten days. It also wiped out many of the tree's limbs and its weight pulled the others downward till they touched the ground. The storm was followed by several weeks of rain, and the water-laden branches never did pull themselves back up again.
The ice did its damage to my old garden furniture, too, leaving broken limbs across it, woven in such a way that it was weeks before I had enough help to untangle them from atop the table and chairs. What remained looked to be beyond help, and included cracks in the iron work of the chairs. Years ago my husband told someone I had so many collections of old broken things, one could lose a chair in this house and it would be years before it was found again. Maybe so, but I held on to that cracked garden furniture for a few weeks. One day I was looking at a photo a friend who lives in Florida sent to me. She painted a garden chair in cobalt blue, and it was glorious, surrounded as it was by blooms of all kinds. With that photo came an idea for my broken garden furniture.
I dragged my furniture up the hill of my back yard and placed it beneath the now weeping maple tree. It was a sorry sight, aged by time and broken by the elements. But I had glue and duct tape and an idea, and I didn't need much else. A vise would not fit to hold the glued ironwork together, but duct tape was strong enough to hold it, so I glued and taped and while the glue dried, I sanded. Overnight, it began to look a little better, but I let it age for another day. While it was aging, I took a little trip to a local hardware store and found exactly what I was looking for, cobalt blue spray paint that was guaranteed to cover and protect anything outside. I bought a couple cans along with a can of red and one of yellow. I figured if my garden was going to pop anyway, a little more color wouldn't matter.
I girded myself up for the event, donned an old lab coat and spread an even older shower curtain upon the ground. The duct tape was removed and it seemed to have done its job of holding all the broken pieces in place. Luckily, none of the wood was broken, only aged. I sprayed for what seemed like hours, and covered every spot on the table and two chairs in cobalt blue, along with a few spots on my nose and elbows. Things were beginning to take shape, and after placing everything where I wanted it to be, I left the blue furniture alone to dry.
I had an orange pot that I made on the potter's wheel when I was teaching. I also made the mistake of firing it too close to a student's piece that happened to be black. Those of you who are potters know that orange and red should never be fired in a kiln beside a piece glazed in black, because black will absorb other colors every time. My orange pot had an ugly bare spot on what I called its backside. It would do nicely for holding a magenta New Guinea impatien on my blue table. I used the red and yellow spray paint to cover two old birdhouses that I would hang from the water laden limbs, right along with some windchimes that had been my favorites for years. Nice spots of color and sound, I thought.
I had a little blue spray paint leftover, and just happened to have another even older bench in the front yard, destined for the dump, but I thought I might as well try the paint on it, too, and bring the blue around to the front.
It all looks quite wonderful now, my secret Blue Garden, hidden as it is beneath the accidental weeping limbs of the old maple tree, a bright shady spot full of glorious color. And the front, well, it looks pretty good with its dash of blue, too. I have since found another friend who did a similar thing with purple. She has her own shade garden complete with a purple metal chair, purple plants like Wandering Jew, and a dark colored brick patio that takes on a purple hue in the shade. It is lovely, too, with a mood just right for thinking deep thoughts.
There is a forum on Dave's Garden devoted to creating treasures from trash, and you can find it here , it is filled with all kinds of unique ideas, and just might inspire your creativity.
If my glued and painted garden furniture remains intact through another of Kentucky's unpredictable winters, maybe next year I will be in one of my purple moods, and it will again take on a new look. I still have leftover duct tape, and I always keep E6000 adhesive around anyway. Whatever happens, you can be sure its demise will be in a colorful blaze of glory. It will have served me well.
Thanks to bivbiv for her inspiration all the way from Florida, and to dbelcher for her lovely purple chair photo. All other photos are my own.
You will also enjoy reading carrielamont's article here featuring some lovely ideas for blue pots.