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Recycled items impress visitors to a home garden
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Recycling is popular in today's society, but the idea rarely conjures up visions of beauty. One Tallahatchie County gardener has developed a garden with old items that would make many people clean out their attics and garages in search of ornamental items to create unique displays.
Rhonda Simpson of Sumner has a very large garden that is flourishing thanks to soil preparation, which is where my first thoughts of recycling come from. The flowers are all planted on raised beds comprised of soil and what most people call gin trash, a bi-product of our state's cotton industry. Trash it isn't; recyclable it is -- and organic-rich, too. Rhonda says the pH of the gin trash tends to be above 7, meaning acid-loving plants like azaleas or camellias will prefer a different mix.
Rhonda also takes great advantage of old homes and buildings that are being torn down, and she'll go to great lengths to make sure she has first option on these relics. Her garden includes colorful doors and windows used in several places.
A wall separating property lines in her large backyard was built from old lumber. It has a mirror colorfully framed like a window that makes you think you are looking through a window rather than looking at the garden behind you. The wall is covered with interesting yard art and other recycled treasurers including an old bicycle that belonged to her mother-in-law.
There is a special outdoor room called Margaritaville. Here the colorful 1950's style red furniture sits on a floor of old recycled brick that was laid by Rhonda. The moss-covered brick is heirloom in appearance.
The most unique feature in the garden may be the five old white columns lining Rhonda's newest garden. These columns from an old home give a ghostly Southern archaeological feel to the garden.
Many of us have toured someone's yard only to find they have the same flowers that are growing in our own beds, but something is dramatically different. Theirs, like Rhonda's, is a special garden that makes us shoot a picture, either real or mental. We leave either energized to do better or feeling a little depressed.
Our flowers may be as good, but it is the finishing touches that make a real garden. Here in Sumner, the finishing touches were items about to be destroyed that instead became treasures.
I have always preached the idea of developing rooms outside for sitting and relaxing. This home has at least a half dozen all with recycled products of one form or another and a large quantity of flowers to enjoy.
The lazy, hazy days of summer are here, and this is a good time to reflect on our own landscape. If you are not happy with what you have, it can certainly be improved through recycling as Rhonda has shown and of course some good quality plants from your local garden center.