Saturday, October 5, 2019

Free things


David surprised me last week, when he came home from work. The aged care facility he's employed by, had some plants and containers to discard. Or at least, no-one wanted to look after them any more. There were some mature specimens, inside the pots, and even a metal owl companion, found it's way with some succulents.

I was quite chuffed with that little addition! I don't have this particular succulent yet, so it was another bonus. Healthy. Free. And delivered to my front doorstep. It felt like Christmas came early!

Chlorophytum comosum

I already have this variegated Spider Plant, but was happy for more. As the drought conditions have tested some in the garden. I've lost a few. But now I've gained a few back. Spider plants are like Tribbles though. As long as you have one healthy specimen, they're happy to proliferate like rabbits.

I've never had to worry about this plant, taking over the garden, however. Because the protracted dry spells, tend to sap their vigor. But a survivor in the right location, well that tends to be in a container.

Cuphea hyssopifolia, or Mexican heather

This is another plant which I've purchased in the past, but lost in the garden. Due to dry conditions. I made the mistake of planting them in an exposed area. They do much better in a group of plants, which can offer partial shade, during the day. Especially the hottest parts.

How about that unusual container though! I'm certain it's part of a vertical plant tower, but all that was being discarded at work, was one. I have some ideas for using this container, during summer. I'm thinking something extra for my kitchen garden perhaps.

More succulents and Mexican Heather

Many of the containers we received, had self-seeded into other pots. So I have plenty of young plants, to nurture to maturity. I expect many of these will live on the verandah, in pots. At least while the dry conditions, continue. It's the only way they'll be guaranteed a drink, and survive.

Vinca Rosea, or Madagascar Periwinkle

These delightful flowers were popping out of some containers. It normally has five petals, but this one, had only four. Such a lovely shade of mauve too. Someone knew what they were doing, putting this plant collection together. As each variety has a reputation for being survivors. And living in containers, asks a lot!

Even though there are many bare patches in these pots, what has survived, is in remarkably good condition.

Making more

Still, I like to propagate where I can. Just to insure against losses, or in case I want a mass planting. So I took some extra cuttings from the Periwinkle, and put them with my growing collection of plants, on the kitchen, window sill.

My husband commented recently, while at the sink - he's loving having the plants inside. Which is the whole motivation for me as well. There's an inexplicable quality to plants, which never fails to draw me in.

Sealed ceramic pot

I found a half-drowned bulb, in this container. It doesn't have a drainage hole at the bottom, so that's probably why. I'm attempting to save the bulb, by drying it out. Maybe there will be a surprise flower, in the making, in future? If it doesn't make it though, I still adore the ceramic pot.

I was just thinking recently, I'd like a white ceramic pot, to put my indoors plants in. Like a cover pot for the plastic pot, to go inside. It beats having a saucer underneath, to catch any moisture. So it needs to be sealed, with no drainage holes. This container may not have been suitable for keeping bulbs, but it will be perfect as a cover pot, inside.

All together

I'm thrilled my husband spied the collection, while in the process of being discarded. He asked permission to take them home, and whulla! While these containers look sparse, and perhaps a little unattractive because of that - I see plants which are doing much better, than in my garden.

Some containers are showing effects of sun exposure, but I'll still reuse all the pots. Bad ones will be replaced, at a latter time. For now though, they'll have their respective gaps filled, with other things which need rescuing from the garden. Propagation material, can always bring a garden back from the brink, at a later time.

Red volcanic rock

While I'm on the topic of free things. We also received some free rocks, from another avid gardener, just up the hill from us (Toowoomba). We collected a trailer load from her garden, around seventeen months ago. All in aid of constructing our drystone retaining wall. Which we are never going to finish still in the process of completing, lol.

Amy got in contact with us recently, so we collected more rocks from their garden. Intending to collect the rest, when the kids go back to school. We're so grateful for these wonderful gifts. And more than happy to repurpose them on our property. Whether it be free plants, containers or rocks. We will find a dedicated place for them. We even managed to build an extra metre on a wall. Yay!

Have you received any spontaneous surprises, recently? Or any kind acts of generosity?


  1. How neat! I'm so glad those plants didn't have to be thrown away. You're just the person to keep them flourishing. I've been thinking about my own container plants this past summer. Usually, I'm not very good with plants in containers, but the ones I had near the back porch did well because it was easy to water them. Since our summers can be so variable, I'm thinking about expanding this concept to a larger container garden. Next time we have a long, hot, dry summer like 2019, I'll hopefully be able to keep more thriving.

    1. It's great you found a favourable location around the house. That's the best place to start experimenting with containers. You'll discover what grows best there, and what edibles are worth planting. As some fit containers well (vine crops and tomatoes) while others seem to exploit the favourable conditions, but don't produce quality food (ie: beetroot). I get a lot of leaf growth at the expense of the root! You'll enjoy experimenting with what's possible.

  2. Chris, what a windfall those plants were. It is odd that the home was getting rid of them unless they belonged to someone who had passed away. I have lots of plants in pots nd the ones I really don't want to lose are at the bottom of the back stairs where I am reminded to water them. I am back in drought mode again and saving jugs of water inside so it doesn't go down the drain. That was second nature during the drought before the 2011 floods when we were on severe water restrictions.

    1. It's possible the plants belonged to someone, and their dementia or ailments made it impossible to care for them any more. Or it could have been someone who passed away, like you suggested. They will have a good home here though. I hope your plants survive all those renovations (tradesmens' boots) and the dry. I would love a wet summer, this year!

  3. What a bonus! It's amazing what gets thrown away. When our local council has its annual hard rubbish collection, I always scrounge around the piles and have scored some very attractive and useful pots. Even large, ordinary black tubs are useful for putting veggies in.

    1. Free things are the best, especially the ones you have to hunt around for (legally that is, lol). You're probably as happy as I am, to repurpose all those containers. And veggies are a great place to start!

  4. What a great treat Chris to have the privilege of re-homing these plants..and free too. Ooh that's even better than snaffling a bargain at the op-shop. Well done!

    1. Thanks Sally. I'm going to be looking at the local op-shop for affordable, cover pots. So I'll get twice the buzz, if I find one, lol.

  5. Hi Chris.

    I am sure you will have those plants looking healthier in no time at all. I didn't know you could grow periwinkles from cuttings, I am going to try this.

    Such a great score, I always grab plants if they are free, not that it happens often. I usually raid friends and family gardens for the tough and hardy plants, the ones that grow by piece like succulents and geranium/pelargoniums.

    My geraniums (climbing) are doing so well this year. I put some in hanging baskets, hung them around the edge of the verandah and at this very moment they are covered in blooms and looking so pretty. There are so many varieties and colours and they grow so well. I also have some in smaller rectangle pots like the one you have pictured. I have been a bit slow in getting them planted out but they have grown huge and seem to be thriving. I am a bit cautious about putting them in the ground with no rain to speak of for the next three months. I will just top up their pots with some horse poo and dirt for now.

    Those free rocks are definitely something worth getting hold of.


    1. From what I've read periwinkles propagate easily. In water or pots. Mine are looking healthy so far. Your geraniums sound delightful. You can always count on a geranium to bloom, lol. I especially love the smell of their leafs when crushed. Cintronella is my favourite, and incredibly tough. I'm always propagating this one to spread around the garden, more.

      I bet your hanging baskets, look amazing. :)

  6. I have the strange shape pot, it came as a set of 3, which stacks on top of each other, sold for herbs or strawberries, but there is not enough soil for the plants to grow. I will make a desert design once my tiny plants grow to a decent size.

    1. I've always wondered if plant towers were all that practical, for the very reason you mentioned - not a lot of space for plants to grow. Having it open though (not stacked) allows the individual container to be filled with more soil. That's what I'm going to experiment with. But succulents and sedums probably wouldn't mind the shallow soil, in a stacked tower. So your idea for changing the plant (desert ones) will work wonders for those containers.


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