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Historic South Wayne Neighborhood's gardening contest inspires some creative 'containers'

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And the winners are …

What's Bloomin' gardening columnist Jane Ford will announce the Historic South Wayne Neighborhood's container garden contest winners in her column June 28 in The News-Sentinel's Features section.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 12:01 am

The Historic South Wayne Neighborhood Association's first Unique Container Garden Contest certainly lives up to its name.

Colorful blooms and lush foliage explode from “containers” such as a dollhouse, desk, wooden pallet and more.

“This has just been a fun job,” said Tom David of the 800 block of Packard Avenue. “But I put in a lot, a lot of hours,” added David, who transformed his two now-adult daughters' old metal dollhouse into the miniature “David Garden Estate.”

He'll find out if it is enough to win on Saturday, when three local Master Gardeners visit contest entrants to judge their containers. Prizes are $100 for first place, $50 for second and $25 for third.

The container garden contest grew out of a discussion by the neighborhood association's board of directors about ways to get residents more involved in the neighborhood, said Jane Ford, the board member who suggested the container garden idea.

Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener and writes the What's Bloomin' gardening column published Fridays in the Features section of The News-Sentinel. She also will be a judge for the contest.

Six people entered the event, which began in late May. The Historic South Wayne Neighborhood is bounded by Fairfield Avenue on the east, Kinsmoor Avenue on the south, Broadway on the west and Home Avenue on the north.

Creativity sprouted

Contest rules said the container had to be something “obviously” from the resident's home, and that sparked some creative ideas.

David was walking down to his basement when he saw the dollhouse and the idea struck him to turn it into a garden container.

He cut flaps in the roof to allow in light, and covered the flaps with aluminum foil to reflect light toward plants' leaves. He slid tubs with potting soil into the rooms of the house, and then — sometimes with painstaking patience — planted plants now bursting from the house's windows, door, chimney and cupola.

Two old car-shaped planters that once belonged to his mother-in-law are parked out front, each overflowing with a plant's thick, green-and-white leaves.

Caitlin Gossman of the 1100 block of Packard Avenue wasn't available on Monday afternoon, but her “container” was an old desk on their front porch that had been painted a cream color. Cheery, bluish-purple flowers popped out of the desk's side drawers, while two clumps of Scottish moss added greenery to the desk's middle drawer. A potted white impatien, desk light and gardening books completed the scene, which she titled “Summer Study.”

Re-purposing possessions

Michelle Bandor's grandmother's old ladder-back chairs had been collecting dust in the basement and garage for years.

But once Bandor, of the 1000 block of Wildwood Avenue, decided to enter the contest, the chairs became an unexpected treasure. She painted them a bright purple-blue color using paint left over from painting her daughter's bedroom.

She stretched pieces of old chicken wire over the seat area, put some moss on the wire and then transferred in flowers from pots by her front porch.

The project not only added eye-catching design to her front landscape, it saved the two chairs from getting thrown out, she said.

Bandor's nearby neighbor, Carol Wire, didn't know her son had entered her in the contest until she read it recently in the neighborhood association newsletter. She decided to enter, even with the late notice.

“I thought it sounded fun,” she said. “It gives a little cohesiveness to the community.”

She was rummaging around for a container and then had the idea for her “Gone Shopping” scene with a tipped-over wheelbarrow containing flowers, surrounded by a watering can and a small garden shovel and rake topped by a gardening hat.

The idea resulted in part because she has intended to go shopping, but she always gets busy in the yard and runs out of time.

Special deliveries

Linda Lallow of the 900 block of Cottage Avenue dished up the “Vintage Kitchen Collection.”

Lallow, an avid gardener, pulled out about a dozen old cooking pots and pans and brightened up a semi-shady side of her front porch by filling the containers with red-and-green coleus and red, pink and white wax begonias.

A few blocks south, Ozie Taulbee of the 900 block of Kinnaird Avenue turned an old pallet they had into a vertical herb garden.

Marigolds, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley and more now stretch skyward from the slots in the pallet, which stands upright against a landscaping wall in her family's backyard.

“The most difficult part was getting the dirt to stay in place,” Taulbee said.

She first stapled a piece of black, landscaping canvas on the back of the pallet and then started putting dirt in behind and between the wooden slats that form the top of the pallet when it is laying flat. She found it worked best to do one layer of soil and plants at a time.

She also used landscaping moss to help hold the soil and plants in place.

“I'm enjoying how nice it looks,” Taulbee said. “I also was amazed by how many things you can put in here.”

She has thought about painting or stenciling the pallet to give it even more visual appeal.

“You can be as creative as you want with this,” she said.