Friday Idea File: Feeling rusty

A rusty orb on stilts contrasts the spiky mullein; Dragonfly Farms, Bainbridge Island, Washington

The colour of rust sits comfortably in the natural environment – like green’s complement red, blended with dabs of earth and bark. As with the orb above, even a smooth surface weathers into delicious textural variations. Rust hints of history and age, so that adding a rusty bit helps a new garden feel established. If you squint, you can see some poetry about decay and the cycle of life. Can’t you?

Corten Steel – the corrosion-resistant metal – is the rusty sheeting you’ve probably seen in gardens lately, as planters or edging. We hope you’ll find this other rusty stuff we’ve admired inspiring.

Tell us what you think afterwards: Rust, or bust?

Rusty off-cuts turn a fence into artwork in Robert Bellamy‘s Dallas garden. See more of this artful space here.
We showed glimpses of Ricki Pierce’s amazing cog railing in our post on Wamboldtopia. Here’s a fuller view.
Rather adorable nest by Bob Wahr (get it? barb wire?) Creations of Poulsbo, Washington
The optical pop of laser-cut leaves in a rusty table, Asheville River Arts District, North Carolina
Rusty stuff doesn’t have to be funky. This rather elegant gate is from the Seattle garden of Jim and Suzette Birrell.
Rusty on a shoestring: This rust-touched vintage planter in a Toronto garden lends shabby chic to a rusty-flowered Clivia


  1. I think you said it perfectly in that rust just sits comfortably in the natural environment-not on my clothes though when I sit on rusty benches. Love the rust!

  2. Without trying, over the years I have collected many garden ornaments all of which are rusting beautifully- favourites are a dragonfly and a really large sunflower. Like Tina I wouldn't want to sit on the rusty furniture! Just found your blog. Keep going, it is great.

  3. Rust for sure! I shocked more than a few people by leaving a recently purchased piece of heron statuary outside in the winter elements in the hope that it would do just that…. rust. There is something magical about its presence [rust] in the garden.

  4. Love the bird's nest!! Funny that you share a Clivia today. Mine is about to bloom, so I brought it upstairs to the living area. While standing at the front door waiting for the dog to come back in, I pulled off a yellowing leaf….and a swarm of little black ants came up out of the soil. Sadly it is in the garage now. I thought I had taken care of all the insects on houseplants that had been outside….apparently I missed one.

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