A little green in our homes can do wonders not just for the environment but for our well-being too.
“Plants give life to a home and thus if you cannot grow directly into the ground, exterior pots make it easier to utilise space and aesthetic value addition,” explains artist and art lecturer Bruno Ruganzu.
“Containers of every conceivable size, colour and pattern are now available commercially, and they can be used to hold plants or as features on their own. Clay is the traditional material for pots and certainly plants look their best in them,” writes Gill Hale in ‘The Practical Encyclopaedia of Feng Shui, a Chinese lifestyle that encourages your existence with nature.
According Hale, a garden can be a place in which to display our creativity and provides a wonderful backdrop for arts and crafts.
Give old items a new life
Some pots are brightly coloured, which makes a welcome change and can look attractive, but they can clash with the natural colours of the gardens. And beyond colours, Ruganzu is using a lot of waste material for containers and pots for his compound.
His compound has plastic bottles, some clay made by his students and a recycled washing machine as a planter. His ideas are in harmony with an argument Sheila Nakitende, director of Zaabu Interior Art and Design Company, advances.
“Beyond the conventional clay pots, you can bring your exterior space to life by being creative with recycling and upcycling materials. An old bathtub can be transformed into one or many of those containers. It can either be furniture or a vegetable planter,” she explains.
Other materials that could be turned into planters include old plastic pipes which can be used as window planters when cut in half and screwed to the wall.
One of Nakitende’s favourite recycled planter is a plastic pipe. “This plastic pipe was recycled to grow herbs along a wall. Old car tyres are also another option. Tyres are perfect for outdoor gardening. Their shape and formation accommodates soil maintenance so when you transplant to a tyre with soil, the plants will grow very well as one continues to water them and add fertilisers,” she advises.
In Ruganzu’s home, there is a concrete, headless sculpture that has been turned into a planter. The effigy is of a seated man, with a lantern between his legs. Out of the pressure lamp, another colourful plant blossoms.
He has grown flowers and plants in used old kettles.
“I use everything that can be recycled, with no limits. The beauty is that I can move these containers to wherever I want so they serve to complement different parts of the compound,” he adds.
He is an environmentalist at heart, and clearly in actions. “Basically as an environmental artist, it comes out of the mitigation process and awareness that there is good in old and what others see as waste. I do believe in outside the box thinking too. When you grow plants in an old item, you give it new life and it evokes memories if you had been using it,” he explains.
He adds, “We tend to buy new things all the time without much thought of what we actually have. Fixing and mending has been an old tradition skill that was passed on by generations. This in a way promotes a greener mother earth. Forget the break and buy new things.”
Nakitende recommends using natural materials that can also be used as planters because they accommodate soil and proper aeration for both plant roots and soil.
She adds, “The method is good for people with small spaces. The PVC pipes are long, so you can cut into three to four pieces which can hang one on top of the other vertically. They can accommodate so many herbs used as kitchen spices.”
If you have pots, willow figures and wire sculptures are popular and a worthy addition to the exterior spaces since they offer flowing lines which can bring a garden to life.
“Think of how an ornament will look in its garden setting; is it reassuring or will its shape cause you to jump as it looms out of a mist or at dusk. Objects placed in a garden should blend in with the overall design,” Hale advises.
Reusing old items instead of purchasing new ones will help clear your house of clutter while saving cash. It also has a positive impact on the environment.
Take a look around your home, garage, or garden. Anything there from old boots to unused furniture can be turned into a planter, bursting with the joy of creation.