A couple years ago, as my husband and I were leaving the Southeast Greenhouse Conference in Greenville, SC, I noticed a wooden chair sticking out of the hotel’s Dumpster. While I’m not an avid Dumpster diver, my husband enjoys scooping out discarded treasures. But this time, I admit, it was my instinct that the worn chair had potential … in our garden.

Chair being sprayed

Create a new look every season, if you like, with a fresh coat of paint.

Photo Credit: Megan Bame

Lining chair pot

A small piece of plastic placed on the bottom of the basket liner serves as a saucer for improved water management.

Photo Credit: Megan Bame

Potted chair

I planted ‘Black and Blue’ salvia and a pink Alternanthera in the back for height and color. At the front of the chair, I placed Calibrachoa and Bacopa to trail over the side. Sprinkled in the remaining space, I included an ivory Osteospermum, a blue Ageratum and a silver Dichondra for contrasting foliage.

Photo Credit: Megan Bame

Potted chair by stairs

Whether you call it a nook or a crannie, the flower chair seems to have found a perfect home nestled by the stairs.

Photo Credit: Megan Bame

We pulled the old seat out and noticed it was missing a rung, as well as its cushion. It also had some chipped paint. In other words, it was perfect. I decided to remake the old seat into a unique container – a flower chair. All I had to do was replace the missing cushion with a small garden.

When we got home, I considered painting the chair frame a bright, bold color. Instead, I left it like it was, thinking the chipped paint gave my new “container” added character.

First, I cut out a square of chicken wire 1½ times the size of the chair’s seat area and molded it into a bowl shape. Then I attached it to the chair frame with a thin-gauge wire and snipped off any extra. Next, I put an old cocoa basket liner (for a 20-inch basket) on top of my chicken wire bowl to hold the potting soil. If you don’t have an old basket liner on hand, you can purchase a new one from your local garden center. I also added a 6-inch square of plastic (you can use a sandwich baggie or even plastic wrap) in the center of my liner to act as a saucer of sorts. The plastic keeps water from running straight through the fibrous liner, but because it’s small, extra water drains out.

Now I was ready to plant. I added a peat-based potting soil and selected a variety of plants based on color, texture and size. I primarily selected annuals because I know I will want to plant something new in the fall and I won’t have to worry about a perennial outgrowing the “container.” If there are perennials that you just love, certainly don’t be afraid to use them. You can either treat them like annuals or transplant them when they outgrow the chair.

Whether you pick out annuals or perennials, be sure to choose ones with similar cultural requirements (water and sunlight needs). A plant that needs full sun won’t thrive alongside another that needs full shade. So consider where you’re going to put your new container, and then make sure your plants will get the sun or shade they need.

I gave a lot of thought to where I wanted to put my quirky flower chair. Initially, I thought about using it as an eye-catcher in the front yard, but it seemed lonely and a little out of place there. Then I considered setting it at the edge of the garden, which probably would’ve worked well. But I found the perfect spot – right in the corner of a small flower bed by our back door. This tucked-away area was difficult to maintain for a regular garden because it was next to the stairs leading to the door, and a handrail was in the way. The flower chair fit just right, and it created a new level of interest since the seat is 2 feet off the ground.

When fall rolled around, I “reupholstered” the chair with pansies to give it a fresh look. We enjoyed this bit of whimsy every time we entered the house, and we got countless compliments from guests.

This spring, I thought the frame looked a bit too weathered, so I scraped away the severely chipped paint and gave it a fresh coat of bright yellow. Though the color’s a bit more contrast than I expected against our home’s red brick exterior, I believe the plants will mute the brightness of my flower chair as they grow and will be ultimately enhanced by the sunny frame.

So don’t be afraid to try something different in your garden. You don’t always have to buy something new to add something beautiful. Sometimes one man’s trash really is another man’s treasure!