A Recycled Post about Recycling for Earth Day

Today is Earth Day or for many Earth Week.  I like to think that every day is really Earth Day.  In honor of the day, I’ve decided to do a bit of recycling.  The following is a post I wrote way back in 2010, but I think it still works.  I’d like to share a bit about how to recycle in the garden and even how to use recycled dishes to create art in the garden.

Actually, Recycling, could be the main theme of our lives.  Now it’s called thrifting too.  We’re a couple of old Hippie artists, who were there for the start of the recycling movement. For us it’s just a way of life. We buy everything used and we also get a lot of “good stuff” as I like to call it, absolutely free. Best price there is. And as I mentioned in other posts, it’s a pretty abundant lifestyle too.

Of course we compost. Every scrap of banana peel, tea bag, coffee ground and egg shell is collected in these recycled coffee bins that I brought home from a job. The tiles on the backsplash behind them are all recycled. In fact every tile was actually free and found at garage sales or from sample boards thrown out by tile stores.

Kitchen Compost saving
The composter the food scraps go into, was also free.  Someone in the neighborhood was tossing it. Our rainbarrel is a recycled drum formerly used for soap.

black-composterIn the green house, I recycle too. Every pot from years past is saved to be reused, trays are sometimes taped up to plug leaks but are still put to work. These Black eyed Susan vines are sprouting in cookie packaging.


The seeds for the Purple Cone flower, which I am rather impatiently waiting to see sprout, are planted and living under the protection of packaging, which in its previous life housed a cake bought for my birthday a short while ago.

In it’s next use it may become storage for broken dish shards in my studio, like the many, many salad green containers already put to a second use.

Out in the garden we have, now wait a second, I have to mentally count, at least 4 wheelbarrows. Only 3 are shown here.  All free or almost free. All recycled. I have an abundance of wheelbarrows you could say. I think they are kind of beautiful, in a sort of colorful, shabby, knocked about and used, way.

Wheelbarrow collection, summerhouseart.com


Now that I’ve reached the garden with my recycling theme, I’d like to show you a few pieces of our garden art. Now maybe art for the garden is an odd sort of theme for Earth Day but a lot of our art is made from recyled materials. The mosaic in the herb garden is a recycled chimney covered in old dishes and tiles.

Mosaic Chimney by Helen and Will Bushell, summerhouseart.com

The stepping stones are all made using recycled dishes and tiles, a type of mosaic art called Pique Assiette. In fact, all of my mosaic artwork is made from recycled dishes, tiles and ornaments.  If you would like to see how to make them check my post Creating a Mosaic Stepping Stone Helen’s Way.

Stepping Stone mosaic, by Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

Stepping Stones by Will Bushell, summerhouseart.com

And old sink found in, I must admit, unashamedly, a dumpster dive, is home to our succulents.

Found Basin for the garden, summerhouseart.com


The chime that Bill fashioned out of an old anniversary cup found at a garage sale and hung with flattened silver cutlery is another recycled artwork. There’s much more art to see on one of my previous posts about garden art called Bill’s Driftwood Chair and Other Garden Art Whimsies.

Wind Chime by Will Bushell, summerhouseart.com

Here is another great little chime that Will made as a gift, with a metal tassel from a chandelier now no more and few beads and pieces of flattened cutlery.

Tassel Chime by Will Bushell, summerhouseart.com

There are so many things that we can recycle and reuse for our gardens from artwork to garden furniture to garden tools and implements. There really is no need to go out and buy new most of the time. I always like to say the world is an abundant place as long as you don’t mind second hand. Not buying new saves resources and cuts pollution. Buying used saves more stuff from ending up in landfills too.  And the best thing is getting out and about on the weekends looking for deals at garage sales ( we always plot the most efficient course to save gas), enjoying the  sun at a beach on the way from one sale and the next.   Life is good.  So that’s my little, I hope, upbeat, message in honor of Earth Day.  Even the post is recycled.

(BTW, if you’d like to make a comment, just click on the title.  It’ll take you to comments….and we do appreciate comments )



Our Own Private Jungle

We’re lucky to have this little greenhouse attached just off the back of our bedroom. Unheated, it is only really useful in the summer. But in the summer a lot of my houseplants go for a little vacation here. At first I thought that all that light would be good but soon discovered that it was actually too much of a good thing. It faces west and the hot afternoon sun was too strong for the jades and even the cacti.

Little Buddha shrine under the Christmas Cactus
Little Buddha shrine under the Christmas Cactus

Being garage “sailors”, we soon collected the perfect foil for the sun and made my plants very very happy. Bamboo blinds cover the windows and on the ceiling we have stapled a collection of rattan beach mats, most found at sales and some for only a couple of dollars in Chinatown.

When I move the plants out to the greenhouse, suddenly the rest of the house seems to somehow feel bigger and lighter. In the greenhouse they are all packed in together. Gazing out of the bedroom, it seems like we have our own private jungle.

The only problem is that plants left in here tend to get huge. The jade hardly fits through a doorway anymore.

The ever growing Jade plant in the shaded corner of the greenhouse
The ever growing Jade plant in the shaded corner of the greenhouse

Then there is the added problem of what to do with Jade plant prunings.

Jade plant cuttings waiting for new homes
Jade plant cuttings waiting for new homes

Well, you can’t just throw them out can you? Well, I don’t seem to be able to. I pot them up so there’s always a bunch of new little jade plants coming up in the summer. Luckily I’ve managed to give a few away. I tell people, to entice them, that in Feng Shui jades are “money plants” and they must have some to attract money into their homes. Seems to work. Hey, everything needs a little “marketing”.

Just a preview of December's big show
Just a preview of December’s big show

As for the Christmas Cactus, well, as you can see it loves the space, popping out a few blooms for my benefit. It’ll really go crazy just before Christmas. The spider plant, which usually resides in the studio, also vacationed in the greenhouse. It has grown abundantly and I wonder how it’ll fit back in the studio again.

Spider plant looking for more space
Spider plant looking for more space

But the nights are growing colder and soon my little jungle will have to move back into the house. Somehow I’ll have to squeeze them through the doorways and into corners all over the house. Then the house will feel like a jungle. But through the colder, grayer days of winter that’ll be kind of nice too.