Ingenuity or Image?


I’ve been reading Joanne Harris’ "Blackberry Wine" and was struck by the ingenuity of the character Joe. Old pieces of carpet kept out the weeds in the vegetable garden. Empty paint tins were made into plant pots. Plastic bags kept the birds off the fruit trees.

He would use coal dumped from coal trains for fuel. And created a greenhouse out of an old signal box.

I think we have gone too far into the "everything has to look perfect" phase and let go of some of our ingenuity.

We don’t want to make things out of milk jugs or tin cans because they might not look as good as store bought items. Shoe boxes for storage may not look as perfect as the boxes from Target.

It might be fun, if next time you think you needed to buy something to solve a problem to look around at what you have. What can you scrap together with your creativity?


  • Jane says:

    One of my neighbors does this & while I can appreciate his frugality & creativeness – his yard is a total mess. It looks like a crazy mash-up of hanging milk jug bird feeder (picture 20 or so of these), old concrete cylinder forms (for pouring light post bases) turned into statuary stands, HUGE whisky barrel planters & no less than 6 55-gallon drums holding rain water (we hope) and so on. All that is in the front & side yards – who knows what the backyard looks like.
    The home owners association has been on him about it for months now. I don’t see his yard unless I go down that side of our road (which I avoid just for that reason) but his close-by neighbors have waged a distressed property war on him.
    It’s at least entertaining.

  • Judy Mackey says:

    It’s funny how there’s Shabby Chic and just plain junk. I try to re-purpose. Shoe boxes are sometimes pretty just put a label on the side that you will see with what shoe is in there “Red laced sandals” – works as well as the clear plastic. I’ve bought clear plastic shoe boxes thinking they’d be uniform and neat but not every shoe box is the same so I’ve ended up with slightly curved topped boxes not quite stacking as nicely with flat topped boxes…Love your weekly simplicity tips that I get in my emails – fantastic tips! thank you!

  • Sandi P says:

    I use coffee cans as planters, even though they are made out of paper nowadays. I’ve also used old cd’s to scare away birds. I’d sure like to use all the pretty planters and decorations in my yard, but at least I keep it all in my tiny fenced yard. I do try to put the prettier plants in front of the sliding glass doors so it looks better from inside the house, but I think the plants matter more than the planters. Many shoe boxes are very sturdy, and can store more than shoes. I’ve even put contact paper to cover the logo on some of them.

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