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Spray Paint Your Garden!

Anne Jaeger

Garden Graffiti


A little bit of spray paint goes a long way in the garden.  Yes, spray paint.  Okay, okay, I know spray painting your garden sounds tacky and just plain wrong, but used properly this technique will make you the envy of your neighborhood.  I call it “garden graffiti”.  Now, the word “graffiti” itself is pejorative so you’re going to have to stick with me on this one to understand where I’m coming from.  No, I’m not suggesting you spray your brown lawn green in order to make the neighbors believe your grass is still thriving.  Nor would I condone using black spray paint (or any other for that matter) to tag your moniker along garden walls and fences.  Quite the opposite, if done tastefully, garden graffiti is THE newest trick to bring color back to a garden.  I picked up the inspiration after hearing a friend talk about it.  Lucy Hardiman, garden designer, writer and popular lecturer, is the first person to make art out of spray paint in a garden.  Thank goodness, you don’t have to be an artist to know a good idea when you see it.  And this doesn’t take much finesse. You just have to know when “enough is enough”.  Now let me explain the process.   Spray painting your garden works best on seed pods that hold their structure and keep their form long after the flower petals are gone.  You could spray the seed heads of poppies, thistles or milkweed just to name a few.   It works like a charm on allium. The flower is a round ball that looks like a purple sparkler on the end of a dowel.  When the petals fall off the ball, the round globe is left standing on the end of the stick.   The former flower head is very cool looking but it turns brown and blends into the scenery without colorful petals jutting out in every direction.   So, spray paint the tiny round seed pods.  Presto, chango! The old brown globe, now past its prime suddenly looks like it’s flowering again.   I used fluorescent blue on three allium seed heads and it looks great.  The hardest part is picking the right color.  Find a color that is either in contrast or harmony with the rest of your garden and the rest is easy.   Just shake the can and pull the trigger.  As always, there are some inherent dangers that come with spray paint.  First of all, it’s hard to stop once you get started and it’s easy to get the spray everywhere.  So don’t try this on a windy day and protect your garden greenery from overspray by using a piece of cardboard, paper or drop cloth behind and around the target.   Another word to the wise, don’t water your art work.  You see, the spray paint is heavy, even when dry.  The weight of the water from a sprinkler on top of the paint breaks the plant stem.   Also, choose the spray paint carefully.   I have a garden friend who sprayed engine block on her Alliums which look like smaller versions of lily of the Nile.  My friend found two problems right away. The seed pods crumbled under the weight of the spray and engine block does not come in fashion colors.   So, you see, a little bit of real spray paint goes a long away in the garden.  What have you got to loose?

If your experiment is a dismal failure you can always destroy the evidence.   You artist, you.

Now, back by popular demand, here’s this weeks garden “To Do” list.

*Entend the life of Dahlia flowers by plunging freshly cut stems in 170 degree water.  Allow to cool in the water, arrange.

*Cut foxglove, delphinium, daisy and coreopsis flower stalks to encourage more bloom.

*To control height and delay bloom time, cut back ‘black-eyed Susan’ (Rudbeckia), ‘Autumn Joy’ (Sedum) and ‘beebalm’ (Monarda)