Dreaming, scheming, and planting: The garden chair project

By Thurman Maness

Pittsboro, NC – It started I guess thirty five years ago. In someone’s yard, I saw an old wooden country chair that had been made into a planter. To me, it was a good idea, but poorly designed and thought out. The ugly brown side chair was completely out of character with the colonial style house. The flowers for the most part, seemed happy and were blooming even tho their roots really didn’t  have enough soil. I immediately thought to myself that I could design one and do it better. The old brain cog machine was set in motion. Dreaming and  scheming; my thoughts of this wooden chair planter was that its lifetime was limited to maybe just a couple of seasons, because wooden chairs decline and rot in rain and winter. I stored the idea in the back of my mind for a future project. A mind already bulging with hundreds of ideas, themes and schemes.

As the years raced by, the planted garden chair idea was dimmed by other projects that consumed my time. But six years ago, I was in the Pittsboro Habitat store and there it was; the chair that would be “MY” garden chair. It would be the highlight and crowing jewel of my little garden spot.

I guess what grabbed my attention was that this fancy metal garden chair, with grape cluster design, glistening white, didn’t have a seat. No bottom. A perfect opening for a big flower pot! What I could do with this treasure! My mind raced. I bought it and set it aside until I could find a pot that fitted that fourteen by fourteen inch opening. Never once thinking about the amount of soil and the weight of the whole thing. I would soon realize that a container or pot that diameter was huge and weighed way too much to support itself on the chair edge  and definitely could not support the weight of wet dirt.

Part of the problem here was that the edge of flower pot needed to rest on the edge of the metal chair seat rim for support and strength. An absolute necessity. So the pressing problem was to find a 14 inch wide shallow bowl type planter. The rim of the bowl resting on the edge of chair seat rim for support. My biggest problem was I wanted it to look like a chair seat and not a big flower pot. Finally I did find a pot that fitted. Wide and shallow; almost the shape of an old fashioned dishpan.

Some months after buying the first metal chair, there they were, the remaining three grape design metal garden chairs, at Habitat. Of course I bought them. Now the idea was bulging in my mind, that I could have my garden chair and a couple of pre-planted garden chairs to sell. Months, maybe a year went by and I hadn’t planted/fashioned one garden chair. But then once again, at Habitat were four other metal garden chairs, Art Deco style, without seats. Did I need four more metal  garden chairs? Why not? That now made a total of eight chairs and not one yet transformed into a planter.

I can’t even remember where the last and final two metal chairs came from. Those are also white, but more of a simple country style.

So now with ten garden chairs requiring special bowl-pot seats, my plan needed to be completed. I had to find and buy ten of the wash-bowl type planters. Finding those bowl/pots proved to be expensive. I ended up paying an average of fifteen dollar each, plus  shipping. Two years ago I planted eleven of those pots with various perennials, ferns, etc. thinking they would be permanent attractions and pretty annuals could be added each year for extra beauty. Those plantings have produced handsome plant specimens with lush growth. Many have the native evergreen so called ‘Christmas” fern. Maybe even add some of those gorgeous colorful pansies in the spring. These planted bowls have year round seasonal interest.

And if I do say so, it was a long tedious project in the making, but well worth the effort .

photo by Thurman Maness

It is “THE” garden chair; strong and durable. Oddly enough, plants sitting dramatically in those chairs looks so natural. Almost like it was meant to be.  Sitting proudly in the garden amongst other growing things. Beautiful the year round; last for years.

A great thing for someone who wants that special “touch’ to brighten up their surroundings with little effort.

So proud of my chair!  Chairs I should say. All my chairs? More than I can display. The planted pots with ferns perennials and such are so vigorous. Way too many chairs for my garden. It has been a challenge and a major project for me; and at my advanced age, not likely to happen again. So, I’m parting with some. They will look great in anyone’s garden, yard or on a patio or terrace.

Wanna see? I can email a photo.