Read This: Handmade Garden Projects


“A collection of plants, however choice and brilliantly well-tended, doesn’t become a real garden until it takes on the character and personality of the gardener behind it. The best gardens—those we fall into for hours, appearing new with every visit—are ones in which the owners are telling us something.” So writes Lorene Edwards Forkner in her new book Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting & More. It’s my favorite quote in her engaging, personality-infused book about turning garage junk into playful decor, whimsical focal points, and even functional seating for the garden.


During the 2011 Garden Bloggers Fling in Seattle, we attendees were treated to a tour of Lorene’s garden and saw firsthand many of the projects featured in her book, including this adorable miniature parterre garden in a Radio Flyer wagon…


…unique gabion-style seating, which also serves as a low retaining wall…


…and an easy, gabion-style table made of scrap wire fencing, river rocks, and a piece of tempered glass.


Lorene is not afraid to repurpose anything. She rolled a retro travel trailer into her garden as a folly. Despite its non-mobility, it provides her with the perfect garden get-away.


She papered the interior of her “cocktail cabana” with maps, playing up the travel theme.


Her simpler projects are equally inspiring. I love this charming tiered planter Lorene created by stacking a pot within a pot, color coordinating the plants, and mulching them with shards of broken pots.


Lorene, who blogs at Planted at Home, was one of the planners of last year’s Seattle Fling and bravely invited 70+ bloggers into her small urban garden. That’s her up on the deck. I didn’t really get to know her because she was so busy that weekend, but I can tell you that her garden definitely tells a story and has personality.


If you need a little inspiration for infusing your personality into your own garden, be sure to check out her book. But don’t just copy her ideas. Tweak them and shake them up and create something entirely “you.”

For more: See my post about visiting Lorene’s garden at the Fling for more images of her garden.

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review by Timber Press. My review, like everything in Digging, is my own honest opinion.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

7 Responses

  1. Jean says:

    I just got my copy of the book last week and it is so inspiring. Now if only I can find the time to try some of the projects! I’m holding on to my old copper gutter for a succulent trough, hoping I’ll get to it this spring.

    Where will you hang yours, Jean? On a porch rail like Lorene or on a fence? I look forward to seeing yours on your blog! —Pam

  2. Scott Weber says:

    What a great garden…LOVE the Stipa gigantea! I’m so totally clueless about any sort of “decorating”, inside or out!

    Isn’t that an incredible grass?! I saw those all over Seattle and was in love. As for decorating, Scott, some people love to add all kinds of garden art and decor and some just stick with plants. I’m definitely in the former camp and must often reign myself in not to overdo it. But I do think that sort of thing adds personality to the garden, especially if one uses handmade or unique items. —Pam

  3. Shirley says:

    I remember her fun and inspiring ideas from your post last summer. Looks like a fun book with lots of great ideas that would work in a Texas style garden too.

    Yes, many of her projects have a definite South Austin flair, Shirley. ;-) —Pam

  4. commonweeder says:

    It was just wonderful to be able to visit this fascinating garden. I just sent off my book order.

    I hope you enjoy reading it, Commonweeder. You’ll be ready to start creating your own projects when spring rolls around. —Pam

  5. Great quote and Lorene’s garden was definitely one that was telling us something and in which I would have no problem spending hours. I wonder if any of the projects from the book will show up in your garden?

    The idea I’m most tempted by is the simple tiered arrangement of terracotta pots, finished off with a mulch of broken terracotta shards. But it’s not likely to appear in my garden because terracotta dries out much too quickly here. I already have stock-tank planters galore, of course, which get mention in her book. Mainly I’ll be using her ideas to jumpstart my own. Seeing a creative mind at work can get your own creative ideas flowing! —Pam

  6. Laura says:

    Sounds like a great book that I would like so I’ll check it out.

    I’m always working on some small homemade garden art project.–Right now it’s a concrete mosaic chicken made with left-over broken bits of kitchen & fire place tile along with pieces of broken plate, pieces of cool metal found in the yard, glass beads and other neat stuff. Laura

    Your projects sound like fun, Laura! I go through phases of creativity, usually set off by creative gardens I see on tour, or books like this one. —Pam

  7. Cynthia says:

    My favorite gardens have personality! I so admire people who can envision how to repurpose artifacts in the garden.

    I do too, Cynthia. It’s inspiring to see how ordinary items can be repurposed for fun or utility in the garden. —Pam

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