Not rubbish, but original garden pots

Upcycling cans, milk cartons and jam jars

Not in the mood to put the recycling out? All that packaging can do wonders in the garden and create some fantastic displays. 

Not rubbish, but original garden pots

Flowering lanterns in a couple of minutes 

This is a fun craft project that only takes five minutes. Cut tall ‘windows’ in a milk carton 7cm from the bottom and make a hole in the middle of the folded seam at the top. Spray the carton a cheerful colour and plant a hanging plant like bacopa in it. Feed a string or ribbon through the hole and hang a row of them on an open fence or pergola as flowering lanterns that swing cheerfully in the wind.

Strawberry nursery in plastic 

With an easy watering system, you can save space, recycle, and grow your own fruit and veg with no need to bend down: large plastic milk bottles are perfect for a horizontal kitchen garden. Keep the bottom 10cm of the bottle and cut away the front and part of the sides above that. You’ll find it easier to cut if you hold the knife in a candle flame briefly first. Punch a hole for drainage in the bottom with a bradawl. Screw the backs of the milk bottles onto a sunny fence to create perfect containers for strawberry plants, herbs, radishes, garlic, snack cucumbers, peppers and cherry tomatoes. If you hang them above one another strategically, you only need to water the top row and the water will trickle down of its own accord. This way, you get freshly picked strawberries quickly and without too much effort. 

Cans on the pergola 

A lick of paint can transform cans into cheerful pots. Make a hole in the bottom with a bradawl first so that surplus water can drain out - and then? 

  • Place bright colours together on a rack, all containing the same plants or create a delicate garden tableau in pastel shapes.
  • Secure nine identical cans in a perfect square against the shed or fence and let a wild bloomer like a nasturtium or lathyrus run wild as a contrast.
  • Stick wallpaper borders on cans and varnish them for an original line-up on the windowsill.
  • Punch three holes in the top edge and hang the cans off the pergola filled with cheerful violas. 

Mini-pond in a jam jar 

Beautiful and ethereal: hang up pond plants such as water hyacinth, frogbit or water arum in a jam jar with water. Twist thin wire firmly around the neck of the jar, and hang the water plants off a bush or tree between a couple of jam jars containing tea lights to for a magical effect. You wouldn’t expect to find pond plants at that height!