Singer In The Rain


Campanula cochleariifolia ‘Elizabeth Oliver’


Wind and rain this weekend. So much for our plans to get moving on ‘The Heap’ and start the weeding up on the bank. Clay soil is heavy when wet and it’s not much fun slip sliding down steep muddy slopes either. So I had to settle for a gentler pursuit.



Many years ago we bought an alpine sink. It’s never been a great success, mainly because I’ve been neglectful in maintaining it. This is just a fraction of the undesirable vegetation that has now emerged. Ivy, grasses, moss. And perhaps most telling of all, Alchemilla mollis. Left to seed and flourish unchecked. Not many of the original alpines survived.

But lo! A shopping opportunity in the offing I hear you say.



And indeed you would be right. It looks so much better now.



Erodium reichardii


I also received, a few years ago, an unusual birthday present from Mike. A piglet feeding trough. We drilled several holes in the bottom and transformed it into a planter. But it looked a bit insignificant sitting on the ground so the search began for some sort of stand. Antique hunting in Hungerford, Berkshire, a few weeks later we came up trumps.




I’ve done some weeding and replanting on this one too.



 Campanula x wockei ‘Puck’



There were two alpines left over. One of which was chosen by Mike. I should have checked the label before we left the shop.



But they look OK in their terracotta pots. And this way I’ll be able to bring them inside for the winter..





2018-04-17T10:06:13+00:00August 19th, 2014|Tags: |


  1. elaine August 19, 2014 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Oh a treadle sewing machine stand – that takes me right back to my grandma’s house – I spent many hours playing with it.

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      They are great aren’t they. My mother used to have an old Jones machine. No treadle though, we had to turn a hand wheel.

  2. Jo August 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    I love alpine sinks and unusual planters. The stand for your trough was a great find, they look like they belong together.

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 7:21 pm - Reply

      They do. It needed to be something very sturdy, the trough weighs a ton!

  3. woolythymes August 19, 2014 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    i think potted containers add so much interest in a garden setting……love what you’ve done with yours!!! and what a lucky find….perfect for the trough. (bet those piggies are jealous)

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      I asked Mike if I could have piglets instead of plants. He said no. 🙁

  4. Denise August 19, 2014 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    Wow Jessica wait till you see what my lovely talented husband has been restoring for me! Not ready yet, but I’ll give you the nod when it’s finished. Alpines – always room for a few more. Have you checked out Curious Plants? Fantastic website – I have just ordered some MORE alpines for my dry stone wall project. Oh and the bulb catalogue has arrived to! Way hey! We’ll be poor but can look out on the garden! Right as ever your blog has inspired me – time to move my ample backside outside and get back to work in the front garden!

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 7:30 pm - Reply

      I’ve just had a quick look at Curious Plants. I need some more succulents (hardy!) to do the same thing. The experimental one I put vertically into a gap in the wall is thriving!

  5. Countryside Tales August 19, 2014 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    A piglet feeding trough…..just what every woman about countryside needs 🙂

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 7:30 pm - Reply

      I don’t know how I ever managed without one!

  6. Mark and Gaz August 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    I LOVE that piglet trough alpine planter on the sewing machine legs, great idea!

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 7:32 pm - Reply

      The treadle doesn’t work any more now it’s been outside a few years, but it’s the looks that count!

  7. justjilluk August 19, 2014 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    We have herbs in an old tin bath. Removal men are never amused tho.

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      Great idea. I’ve been thinking about the same for salad leaves. It’s just not working in the ground. Few bands of copper tape around the rim should help keep the slugs off.

  8. Jacqueline August 19, 2014 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    Love your Singer sewing machine stand for the trough and your sink has weathered beautifully.
    Good job Jess and Mike { apart from the tender succulent faux pas !! } XXXX

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      Since we’ve been down in the wet old west country the sink had acquired a nice covering of moss. It helps the ageing a lot!

  9. Janet/Plantaliscious August 19, 2014 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    That’s an inspired piece of upcycling Jessica, love your wacky planter – and reinvigorating trough and planter sounds much more fun than attempting to weed wet and precipitous beds…

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      It was especially enjoyable as I got to visit Rosemoor out of it, they have a good selection of alpines.

  10. Em August 19, 2014 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    Many’s the time I’ve not checked the label properly but now I have no. Choice but to scour for those shade lovers. I think your planters are fabulous. X

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      Thanks Em. Hope the sun is shining on the south coast!

  11. Linda from Each Little World August 19, 2014 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    I have a tiny trough and my husband keeps threatening to toss it unless I start to make it presentable. I think I am more smitten with the container than the potential plants.

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 7:58 pm - Reply

      I was under a bit of local pressure on my alpine sink too. It doesn’t help that it’s positioned below the terraces and the plants above drop seed into it. It’s also used by the local wildlife as a ‘step up’ to the first level of the terraced beds, but that’s another story.

  12. Pauline August 19, 2014 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    My Mum had a treadle Singer sewing machine and I learned to sew on it! Wonder where it went? Your alpine troughs are beautiful with their selection of plants. One of mine has been engulfed by Erigeron, I must rescue it!

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      Not guilty!
      Some of the plants I’ve put in the containers now are described as ‘mat forming’, so if they get too big I’ll have to take them out and find them a new home. The piglet feeder is perfect for that because it’s all divided up into compartments, one plant in each.

  13. snowbird August 19, 2014 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Oh….I simply ADORE that piglet feeder/singer stand….I’d pay a fortune for something like that, it looks absolutely the business! Now that sounds a lot more fun than carting sol around!xxx

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 8:10 pm - Reply

      I thought you’d like it, knowing your love of garden curios! Anything’s a lot more fun than carting soil around..

  14. Isabelle August 19, 2014 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    I LOVE the piglet trough (an unusual present indeed!). Weather over here is the same: wild, windy, rainy, sunny – all at once xxx

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      Thankfully it seems a bit quieter this week, just the odd shower. It needs to be, there’s so much catching up to do. When we were both working and money was less of an object we used to try and outdo each other with the most unusual present. I think he won that year.

  15. Sue August 19, 2014 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    So somewhere there are hungry piglets and a lady with her sewing machine on her knee 😉

    What a brilliant use of two lovely vintage objects. I am green with envy over that piglet feeding trough, it’s wonderful. I’m keeping my eyes open for an old ‘sombrero hat’ style pig feeder (I have no idea what they’re called) …. and yes, I will be using it for pigs not plants 🙂

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      Send the hungry piglets this way, but the lady will be disappointed. The wheel is now rusted.
      Have a look on ebay, there are several. I just searched for ‘pig feeder’. I was looking to see if the round one would make a good plant container too. It would!

  16. Sue@GLAllotments August 19, 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    How bizarre – when I saw your title I thought – sewing machines.

    Delosperma must appeal to men – Martyn chose one last year and ours is in a terracotta pot in the greenhouse.

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 8:37 pm - Reply

      No-one could accuse it of being blowsy! But I hope, with it being a succulent, I won’t have to water it much.

  17. Jennifer August 19, 2014 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    Your planters are so creative. I love the rust and the worn look of the stone sink. Really interesting ways to pot your plants.

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jennifer. I love poking around in reclamation yards and finding things that we can repurpose. The trouble is it’s become a trend and what used to cost next to nothing is now very expensive!

  18. Vera August 19, 2014 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    What creative use of bits and pieces. I did buy a couple of old sinks from a local flea market a couple of years ago, thinking that they might come in handy for using as temporary food troughs for the pigs.They are still in the pig paddocks somewhere, but have been unseen for some time, having been trampled into the winter mud and buried forever!

    • Jessica August 19, 2014 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      I hope you find them again, they’d look great in your new garden. If we ever again have the time, and the money, I’d love to spend a few days exploring the french flea markets.

  19. hoehoegrow August 19, 2014 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    Lovely interesting finds Jessica, love your piglet feeding trough, and it looks great on the Singer frame. Someone gave us a Singer table and we married it with an old bit of marble we had hanging around Your sink looks great, ours needs a good overhaul every couple of years where I turf everything out and start again as it is over run by thugs !! You bought some lovely alpines- and you can enjoy them in the house too during the winter (which isn’t very far away judging by our current weather!!)

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:21 am - Reply

      The regular overhaul of an alpine sink seems to be a necessity. I perhaps need to create a bit of a rockery somewhere, so the thugs have somewhere to go. It is getting rather autumnal isn’t it. Depressing, for me anyway. There’s still the possibility of an Indian summer, maybe?

  20. Willow August 19, 2014 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    They say you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear
    BUT you certainly can make a lovely planter out of a piglet trough ~
    Nice job :))

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:24 am - Reply

      Thanks Willow. It’s quite shallow, so only small rootballs work. Perfect for alpines!

  21. CherryPie August 19, 2014 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    Gardens always look so much better after rain fall 😉

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:27 am - Reply

      Thanks Cherie. As does the gardener after her relative rest!

  22. Donna@GardensEyeView August 19, 2014 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    Jessica I love these planters…very creative to display these alpines.

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:29 am - Reply

      Thanks! I’m always on the look out for interesting planters. So many different things that can be used these days.

  23. Linda August 20, 2014 at 1:42 am - Reply

    As usual….you have WOWED me again!
    The pale blue of that first Campanula is dreamy…I want that colour in my garden!
    Great planters…so much fun to push the envelope!
    Enjoy your week….
    Linda :o)

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:32 am - Reply

      It is an absolutely gorgeous colour, that campanula, but the flowers are tiny. I hope it spreads and gives me a mat of flowers, that way they’ll show up! If you look carefully the bells are double, so much detail in something so small.

  24. Alain August 20, 2014 at 2:25 am - Reply

    The Alpine sink is magnificent with the moss growing on it and the piglet feeding trough is a work of art.

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:33 am - Reply

      Thanks Alain. Moss I can do!!

  25. Natalie August 20, 2014 at 2:36 am - Reply

    I love what you did with the piglet trough!!

    DO you want me to send you some piglets to go with it?

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:34 am - Reply


  26. brismod August 20, 2014 at 4:02 am - Reply

    The singer is a success. I love a bit of historical domestic/industrial/rural chic – makes for an interesting garden. Our garden is bone dry at the moment and there is no real incentive to plant anything but drought resistent succulents. I wish we would get some more rain. xx

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:56 am - Reply

      Rust works really well in a cottage garden. I’m on the look out for more of it.
      It’s bad news about your lack of rain, especially at the end of winter. I really worry about climate. It seems everywhere in the world is being affected in one way or another. It’s a pity we can’t give you some of our surplus rain.

  27. CJ August 20, 2014 at 8:30 am - Reply

    Your stone trough is beautiful, really beautiful. I love the piglet trough on the sewing machine base as well, a clever idea. I hope you’re able to keep your tender succulent alive. In my experience men should always be very closely supervised when shopping. Well, most of the time actually…

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:59 am - Reply

      Mike just picks up anything he likes the look of and the thought process ends there. He might check the price tag.. Yes, close supervision definitely required.

  28. Amy at love made my home August 20, 2014 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    I love your trough and sewing machine stand combo!!! that is brilliant. If you look back on my blog to last summer you can see what we did with our sewing machine stand – made it into an outside table! xx

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      They are really useful aren’t they. I went to a restaurant once where all their tables were made like that. I had the treadle and couldn’t resist pressing on it with my foot. It had a squeak. Drove Mike mad!

  29. Paula@BloomsnSpades August 20, 2014 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    I am in love with that stand Jessica, what a fabulous addition to the garden. I managed to kill most of my (very small) trough of alpines last year , through overwatering I think. Yours will both look wonderful I’m sure.

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      We need to do something to protect the sink from the winter wet, it got the full force of all the rain last year and that can’t have helped. Even though the mix is half grit it was constantly soaked.

  30. Rosie August 20, 2014 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    A piglet trough and the base of a treadle sewing machine – how wonderful! I remember grandma’s treadle sewing machine and playing with the lovely things in the drawers like buttons and ribbons etc. She used to keep her shoes on the footplate:)

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      What a lovely memory Rosie! I wonder where the drawers were?

  31. frayed at the edge August 20, 2014 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    I learned to sew on a treadle Singer at school, then some years later I was given one by a friend of my Mum’s, who had bought an electric machine. I sewed all sorts on it, including my peach satin bridesmaid’s dress for my sister’s wedding!

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      I’d love to see one that’s still working. My mother had an old Jones with a hand wheel and I really wish she’d kept that.

      • frayed at the edge August 21, 2014 at 8:28 am - Reply

        I have a Singer with a hand wheel that I got about 20 years ago in a junk shop, which does still work, but is really now just an ornament in my studio.

        • Jessica August 21, 2014 at 9:15 am - Reply

          My overriding memory of my mother’s machine was having the needle pierce my index finger!

  32. SeagullSuzie August 20, 2014 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    A brilliant present, something I would be delighted with too…clever husband! Looks great on the singer stand, I love lots of unusual things in the garden. We have had hardly any rain, the soil is bone dry and I’m watering my pots almost every day.

    • Jessica August 20, 2014 at 9:33 pm - Reply

      It’s amazing how the weather can vary within a relatively small area. On the other side of Dartmoor it’s been pouring down, although not for the last couple of days and irrigation is back on.

  33. Charlie@Seattle Trekker August 21, 2014 at 4:51 am - Reply

    Love the old treadle sewing machine, my mother had one and used it for years.

    • Jessica August 21, 2014 at 9:13 am - Reply

      The trend for repurposing has meant that a lot more of these and many other vintage items are surviving these days. It’s great to see them have a use again, albeit an unconventional one!

  34. Paul Clancy August 21, 2014 at 8:32 am - Reply

    Nice pairing of the Singer stand and trough Jessica. The revamped alpine sink looks fantastic oo, I must get out into the garden this weekend for a smarten up. Have a great bank holiday weekend. Paul.

    • Jessica August 21, 2014 at 9:17 am - Reply

      Thanks Paul, you too. I hope the weather plays fair for us, it’s not looking promising.

  35. sustainablemum August 21, 2014 at 8:39 am - Reply

    What a great stand, and the trough looks wonderful too. Seems you might have to be supervising the plant choosing in the future!

    • Jessica August 21, 2014 at 9:22 am - Reply

      This one slipped through the net somehow!

  36. Annie Edwards August 21, 2014 at 10:42 am - Reply

    I am a fan of unusual and quirky planters (particularly galvanised ones) and that Singer stand is just beautiful, as is the trough with its new plants x

    • Jessica August 21, 2014 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks Annie. Yes, me too!

  37. Danielle Bedics August 21, 2014 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    My Grandmother had a Singer. You are so creative. I would have never thought of that one! 🙂

    • Jessica August 22, 2014 at 10:06 am - Reply

      There’s a huge market for vintage items in the UK, so it’s relatively easy to find them these days. I hope it doesn’t mind sitting out in the English rain!

  38. casa mariposa August 22, 2014 at 1:52 am - Reply

    Alpine sinks here are called troughs, which is such a dumpy word. I much prefer your term. Your sewing stand planter is fabulous! LOVE IT!

    • Jessica August 22, 2014 at 10:09 am - Reply

      Thanks Tammy. The term is interchangeable here too. I just used ‘sink’ to distinguish it from the piglet feeding trough.

  39. Chloris August 22, 2014 at 7:22 am - Reply

    Lovely ideas for alpine planters, how enterprising! I have that little campanula and I love it, it’ s an absolute darling.

    • Jessica August 22, 2014 at 10:11 am - Reply

      It is a beauty. I’m hoping it will spread a bit, make the flowers stand out a bit more. They are so tiny!

  40. Josephine August 22, 2014 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    I simply love succulents growing throughout the garden, slow and steady is their pace.
    Your troughs are breathtakingly beautiful, a rare find nowadays !
    You have the most interesting plants and planters.

    • Jessica August 22, 2014 at 8:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jo. I’m determined to keep on top of them this time. Keep them weeded and looking at their best.

  41. Anna August 24, 2014 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Oh I do like that delicate little campanula. Such a distinct colour. What a perfect stand for the piglet trough which was a most considerate and no doubt unique present. I grew up wearing dresses that my mum made on a Singer sewing machine. Your post has prompted me to get my backside into gear and so something with an old mangle that has been lurking in the garage for a few years so thanks Jessica 🙂

    • Jessica August 24, 2014 at 10:37 pm - Reply

      Gosh, that takes me back. I remember an aunt using one of those. I’m intrigued to know what you are going to do with it though..

  42. Hannah September 24, 2014 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Just found your blog via Annie Cholewa, it’s beautiful. I was very drawn to this post as i just found an old singer at the tip. Thankyou for the lovely images.

    • Jessica September 24, 2014 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Hannah, thank you and welcome to rusty duck.
      That’s a great find! I hope you enjoy owning it as much as I do mine. It’s so good to be able to rescue vintage items like this, not least if someone had dumped it.

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