Redneck Gardens

Redneck Gardens Toilet Planter
Toilet Planter by Bart Everson, Flickr

Somehow, in our free-flowing, idea-sharing, chain-of-consciousness discussion about landscape management in my continuing education class at Lanier Tech the other day, we got on the subject of redneck gardens.

I think it started when someone asked about the “whitewash” you sometimes see on tree trunks in the South. What purpose does that white stuff serve?

The ideas came thick and heavy, like a cloud of gnats hovering around your face on a humid day.

  • It was paint, applied by brush to protect the trees from insects
  • It was insecticide, put on for the same reason
  • It was applied to protect the tree trunk from the cold. Or the heat. Or extreme temperatures either way.
  • It was decorative.

And so on. Our instructor googled it and I believe the correct answer was “insecticide”. Don’t want those tree borers digging into that bark.

But someone else had said, off hand, that the white stuff was painted on by rednecks. And so the discussion went off on a tangent. Just what makes up redneck gardens?

You might be a redneck gardener (and plant redneck gardens) if –

  • your garden has white painted tree trunks (yeah, I know I already mentioned that)
  • you use old tires for planters (score points for cutting the tires up into decorative shapes)
  • you recycle and showcase old hubcaps in varied and interesting ways. Like plastered on the outhouse door.
  • you have hundreds of hand-carved windmills scattered all over the yard
  • you plant bottle trees
  • and Easter egg trees
  • AND put garden gnomes everywhere
  • you use beer cans for edging beds
  • you plant thrillers, fillers and spillers in old toilets
  • you create interesting ornamental arrangements with the old cars, washing machines, and lawn mowers rusting away in the front yard

You get the picture. Redneck gardens are innovative.

When I was a student at the University of Georgia (majoring in environmental design), we used to argue with our professors all the time about the nature of design, and that good design, like beauty, was in the eye of the beholder. And I’ve seen plenty of gardens that I wouldn’t call well-designed, but I’m sure their owners thought they were just fine. They suited their needs, anyway.

You puts in your garden what you want, according to your vision. Knowing the principles of design, of what works well with what, can help. But in the end, you have to live with it, so why not do it your way?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I saw this really cool garden gnome I just have to pick up for my garden…

* Toilet Planter photo by Bart Everson, Flickr

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