How to Create a Stylish Outdoor Space With Vintage Finds
They’d had it for years, but wanted to swap it out for something padded. Their grandkids were jumping on it, and you can see where they fixed it before. It takes nothing away from that: there is beauty in imperfection. When Jason is away for work, I change my search box to Facebook Marketplace or eBay so he can pick things up (with collectibles only, there’s no shipping or fuel). Recently he picked up two wheeled carts in Yorkshire.
Made of industrial galvanized steel, they make a striking vintage garden accessory. If you go to a fancy antique shop they’ll cost you an arm and a leg, but we’ve got them for £25 each. I filled one with an Elizabethan ruff of romantic daisy-like Mexican fleabane, which blooms from April until the first frost, interspersed with deep purple blue Salvia ‘Amistad’, a magnet to bees. In spring, I plant tulips there (I like ‘Spring Green’, ‘Bleu Aimable’ and ‘Negrita’), and in winter, Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Ivory Prince’. I also collect old crates of apples for the vegetable patch.
Elsewhere, star plants include romantic old-fashioned roses such as ‘Albertine’, yew and laurel topiaries and perennials including ‘Jane Phillips’ iris. Looking for finds is a great way to meet your neighbors and meet interesting people. When my kids were younger, we found a playground on Freegle. When Jason picked it up, the previous owners turned out to be musician Julian Cope and his wife. There are two sides to my appreciation for vintage garden finds.
One is just that I love the worn patina and history of old things, and going on adventures in our old Land Rover to find them. It’s fun, it saves a fortune and it softens the mood of the garden, giving it a timeless feel. The second is that I find consumerism creeping
and our obsession with buying new stuff is pretty sickening, considering how we plunder the Earth’s resources.
There are wonderful things that had a life before that we can continue to use. It seems almost unforgivable to me to continue to buy new, rather than make do with it. I think most people think more carefully about the choices they make as consumers. For me, this philosophy goes beyond the garden and I often wear charity clothes as well. There’s a brilliant vintage clothing and jewelery shop in Tetbury called Constantine Rex.
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“My advice would be to always buy things that resonate with you”
Lisa Piddington, 51, lives just outside Birmingham with her children Scarlett, 18, and Noah, 16. She moved into her Victorian terrace 21 years ago and has since created a vintage haven, inside and out.