As I poke around my garden trying to discover ways to make it more appealing without requiring a lot of expense or work, I focused in on the boring liriope border that leads to my front door. Liriope is a low-growing ornamental grass that you see in just about every yard here in Virginia. It grows well and adds a soft fringe to border edges, but it’s also kind of drab. It also tends to clump and spread so if you don’t thin it out every once in a while it becomes a thick, uninteresting border.
I am hesitant to pull it all out because it would be hard to find another plant as reliable. It is also a lot of area to cover. So, I wanted to think of something to add to the liriope to make it more interesting.
I was inspired by Michele Beschen’s ideas for DIY garden art using hardware-store materials, that I wrote about at the beginning of this month.
I particularly liked her use of metallic materials. Based on her ideas, I came up with a concept to make some sculptural flowers out of aluminum screening and copper tubing. I liked the concept because these materials add a modern edge to the soft colors and textures in the garden, contrast nicely with the greenery, and they also aren’t trying to imitate natural materials. I didn’t want to make something too cutesy or something that looked like an artificial flower. It’s an added bonus that these flowers would be year-round, and would add some charm during the flower-less winter months.
So, while this is still a project in progress, I wanted to share with you how things are going so far.
- Aluminum screening
- ¼” Copper tubing
- Various hardware items that fit on the copper tubing and can be used for the centers of the flowers. I liked lock washers, cap nuts and T-nuts but you could use whatever you like
- Waterproof super glue
- Florist’s wire
- Pipe cutter
- Heavy-duty scissors
First, cut an approximately 10 x 10” square from the aluminum screening and fold it into quarters.
Then, cut a flower shape of your choosing. I attempted a lily shape, just cutting a loose, approximate shape.
I wasn’t particularly thrilled with how my shape came out.
But after some experimenting, I determined that it made a decent flower when one half of the shape was folded into a tubular flower and the other half wrapped around it. You may want to wear gloves for this part. The screening can have some sharp edges or splinter into small metal fragments as you work with it.
Cut a very tiny hole in the screening where you want to attach the flower to the copper tubing. The holes in the screening seem to grow and stretch so cut the hole far smaller than you think you need.
Determine what additional hardware you want to use to add an accent to the flower center. I liked how a lock washer looked at the base and a brass cap nut in the center.
I put a bead of waterproof superglue where I wanted the lock washer to go and slipped it on the tubing. I then added the screen flower, put another small drop of superglue on the end of the copper tubing and screwed on a cap nut.
I then used the florist’s wire to wire down the flower into the shape I wanted and cover the space between the lock washer and the cap nut.
All that was left was to cut the copper tubing to the right length. I conferred with my handy husband, who advised me that a pipe cutter is the tool of choice for this situation. A few twists of the pipe cutter and voila, a finished flower.
My test flower contrasts nicely with the liriope and I think will give me the look I want.
Now to make a zillion more and see if the final concept works! As a bonus, I found some additional copper tubing in the basement while looking for the pipe cutter so I have even more material to work with and can experiment with different shapes for other areas of the garden.
There are endless creative possibilities for this project. You can shorten or lengthen the copper “stems,” cut different shapes from the screening and even spray paint the screening if you want more color.
What do you think of these artificial flowers? Would you try this in your own garden? Please share in the comments.