It’s better that I stay away from outlets. Not that I enjoy paying full price for things, but those tags showing how much I’m saving off full retail price sucker me in even when it’s a style that’s so not me. I’m not going to walk in and buy something without a use for it, but price does influence me enough that even if I want a brown skirt but the purple polka-dotted one on the clearance rack is 90% off, I buy purple and try to learn to love it.
When we lived in Memphis, an outlet I discovered there had Smith and Hawken gardening items. I do love gardening toys!
We loved our neighborhood there–houses with wide front porches… kids jumping rope on the sidewalk… plenty of pedestrians and bikers– most good folks, but some up to no good. I wanted some porch furniture to be able to sit out and watch the action, but it had to be something pretty hefty to discourage thieves. Brazen thieves. Our neighbor drove up one day to see one of her porch rockers being carried up the street atop someone’s head. Broad daylight and the guy was walking with a chair on his head!
Something very hefty was called for.
At the outlet store I found a bench I wouldn’t ordinarily have chosen, but oh, the savings! It had a wicker seat and back but the frame was. . . cast iron? lead? I’m not good at guessing metals, so let’s just go with very heavy as in, looked like it was made from a manhole cover. Decidedly undecorative; no arms… no squiggles. Just your basic “wait here until your name is called, please” bench.
“What are you going to do with THAT?” I can’t even guess who many times DB has asked that, but why would anyone, even a husband, ask such a question about a bench? What does anyone do with a seat? I was going to sit on the darn thing!
And sit on it we did– on our front porch, despite the fact that it looked like it belonged at a bus stop. I stuck potted plants around it to dress it up, but I’m still unsure whether they softened the look or called attention to it. I’ll just say this: no one ever tried to steal it.
Fast forward ten years to the current house with its deck instead of a covered porch where the sun, rain, and salt air rotted the wicker in no time. I wasn’t about to toss it–couldn’t toss it–not without a hernia, anyway.
A year of hearing, “What are you going to do with that thing? Why don’t we just throw it away?” Truth was, I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but truth wasn’t about to be told! My $29.99 bench surely had some life left in it with a little resuscitation. Finally. . . the AHA! moment hit.
The right way to accomplish what I wanted to do would have been to cover the back and seat with wire, then add moss and potting soil. Working with any kind of wire is difficult for me and often means profuse bleeding, so I chose the lazy way–landscape cloth, green floral wire, a series of very unscoutlike knots. I know it won’t be permanent. Eventually the cloth will rot and the wire will break, but Scarlett O’Hara and I will worry about that tomorrow…or whenever.
Don’t look too closely. My handiwork is decidedly UNHANDY, but I managed, with needle and upholstery thread, wire, and safety pins, to attach that hairy-feeling cloth to the seat. I filled it with potting soil, and wound floral wire in a pattern across the back. I was thinking “starburst” when I did that part, but it may look more like a Union Jack. Whatever.
I’ve planted several different types of ivy in it and if I can make the squirrels stop digging that out and replacing it with hickory nuts, I think I’ll like it. Maybe I’ll add impatiens next summer. Moss would be nice.
What am I going to do with it, indeed! Honey, I’m going to plant it!
I’m so inspired that I’m rethinking what to do with our old piano I can’t even give away. What do you think? planter or blanket chest?
The wickerless wicker bench.