Teresa Woodard writes home and garden stories for regional and national magazines.

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Thrift Shop Chic
by Teresa Woodard    

The more outlandish the styles the better when it comes to choosing shoes to pot up.

Thrift-store shopping is no longer just frugal but also fashionable, especially when it comes to upcycling second-hand treasures as garden containers. Think vintage handbags, rugged cowboy boots, seldom-worn children’s dress shoes and discarded toy trucks — all vessels ready to fill with plants.

Easy-care succulents are a good choice for these repurposed containers, since they don’t need much soil or water.

Lou Killilea, owner of DeMonye's Greenhouse in Columbus, Ohio, and her daughter Kathy Killilea, have been creating these stylishly “green” containers for the past three years, and their lipstick cases filled with succulents were one of the hottest-selling items at this spring’s Central Ohio Home and Garden Show.

She says it all started when her husband, Jerry, brought some old shoes to the greenhouse and asked his wife to pot them up. Today, customers purchase these repurposed garden gems as gifts for baby showers, graduations, Mother’s Day and even retirement. Lou says, “The card reads ‘Retire Your Heels’.”

To make these upcycled container gardens, Lou says to shop second-hand stores, garage sales and even your own attic for shoes, toys and handbags to repurpose. The containers don’t need any special liner but some, such as rubber boots, will need a few holes in the bottom for drainage and a foundation layer of gravel to keep them from tipping over. Next, fill the “containers” with potting soil; then add plants. Lou says succulents, such as hens and chicks (Sempervivum spp.), are an ideal plant choice for these containers. She also uses herbs and annuals like petunias and million bells (Calibrachoa spp.).

Planted children’s shoes make darling gifts or centerpieces for baby showers.

Vintage lipstick cases are a fun find for planting succulents such as these hens and chicks (Sempervivum spp.).

These work boots look charming tucked in a flower bed.

Rubber boots are easily repurposed as garden containers. Just remember to add holes in the bottom for drainage and a foundation layer of gravel to keep them from tipping over.
Vintage handbags and stilettos gain a second life as eye-catching table centerpieces.

From State-by-State Gardening July/August 2013. Photos by Teresa Woodard.


Posted: 10/30/13   RSS | Print


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