The Tschoke Problem

Why does everything look so messy in the garden?

What to Collect ? What Not ? How to Control the Junk ? How to Use a Collection

Garden tours this season proved that this is the Year of the Tschochkes😕 those things that people collect and then toss willy nilly into the garden with little regard for aesthetics.? Lovely gardens marred by plastic alligators, resin fairies or cartoony frogs fishing, as one hort buddy says ?One had to avert one?s eyes.?

A trawl through various search engines turns up a terrifying amount of garden ?art,? junk, artifacts?tschockes. Proceed with caution, here?s how to avoid those eye-averting moments and to keep your garden from becoming plagued with stuff about to go out of style.

What to Collect

Every three dimensional thing in the world is fair game for a garden collection. Rocks and stones are the first most obvious things. And you move on through the planet’s vast repertoire: beach glass, vases; watering can buds (the things that make the droplets), pots of all sizes, old watering cans, grilles, even works of art. I personally like bowling balls, farm implements and rusty metal screens.

What Not

The tide of plastic flamingos even as an ironic statement has ebbed to be replaced by plastic animals of all shapes and sizes grazing on lawns. Gnomes are making a big comeback. There are more than 800 of them for sale on eBay right now. Resist.

What looks unusual, cute or even, dare we say, hilarious, has a short life span. You?ll be sick of it in a couple of years and they are hard to get rid of if lawn sales are any indicator.

How to Control the Junk

The message here is keep it simple. Don?t add just any old thing or any new thing for that matter, if you can?t rationalize it. Make sure it looks good with everything else you have in the garden. Put collections together and see how they look. Doesn?t matter whether it?s pot shards or bits and bobs of metal, gathered together put in a display on a fence they?ll look better than being scattered about.

How to Use a Collection

  • Rocks: use one large one as a central focus and then group smaller ones around.
  • Place them under trees or shrubs. The worms will move them about and make them disappear in a few years, but you can have fun digging them out again. You can do almost anything with stones but don?t line paths with them. I did and I look back and gag.
  • Busted containers: Lean them against a fence, or beside a beloved tree. It gives an instant aged look to the area. Use them as though they?re ancient artifacts that have erupted from the earth. Make a shelf for empty terra cotta pots (especially the babies for which there seems to be no use at all) together sorted by size.
  • Put like with like. If you collect bits of old farm implements hang them together on a fence. Same goes for old watering cans and any other relatively large item.
  • In borders use tschockes sparingly. Hide them under plants as a lovely surprise and they?ll be exposed in winter and spring.

Use any central focal points for something important such as a piece of sculpture. In the meantime a lovely obelisk in the same scale will look gorgeous covered with vines and give you an idea of what you should be scouting for when you can afford it.

Being a collector is integral to being a gardener, that?s why we like plants so much?we collect them. But the material side of collecting holds a lot of pitfalls. Use restraint and a little bit of good taste and you?ll appreciate them even more down the road.