A Strange Thing Happened At The Dump..


Recently refurbished alpine sink


There’s at least a weekly trip to the dump. Sometimes more often than that. Given the size and derelict state of jardin rusty duck we’ve long since exceeded the capacity of the compost bins and had yet more sacks of garden waste to dispose of. On the latest journey I mentioned to Mike that I’d been thinking about protecting the newly replanted alpine sink from the worst of the winter wet. The planting hasn’t been an unqualified success in recent years, mainly because it gets waterlogged in spite of the soil being supplemented by bucket loads of grit. What it needed was some sort of cover. See through to let in light.

Mike backed into the parking bay at the dump and started offloading the bags. There was the usual tortuous process of splitting each plastic sack open, tipping the green stuff into one skip and then hiking over to another on the far side of the site to recycle the bag. Just as we were about to leave a car pulled into the adjacent bay. And what was the first thing its owner removed from the boot? A large sheet of perspex. And yes of course he would let us have it. Mike was beaming from ear to ear. Perspex, apparently, does not come cheap.

For the next few days the sound of a belt saw rumbled round the valley, along with drilling, sanding and screwing.

But look what has emerged..



There is an ongoing debate between him and me as to whether it needs sides. I do think the left side, facing the prevailing wind, needs a bit of extra protection from driving rain.


And it doesn’t end there…



The piglet feeding trough has got one too!


2018-04-17T16:29:17+00:00September 6th, 2014|Tags: , |


  1. Jane and Lance Hattatt September 6, 2014 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Hello Jessica:

    Totally admirable in every respect and aesthetically completely acceptable. If we were you, but of course we know nothing of your prevailing weather, then we should not cover the sides at all in the belief that a through put of air will be beneficial.

    Whatever, well worth a trip to the dreaded dump!

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 7:58 pm - Reply

      Yes, I do want to keep good airflow. I was thinking of a strip of perspex from the top of the exposed side down to about an inch above the rim of the sink, just enough to keep the horizontal rain off!

  2. Pauline September 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    How fantastic, they are absolutely wonderful! I think open to the elements would be better, you wouldn’t want to kill your plants with kindness would you? I think they need the air passing over them/

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:01 pm - Reply

      We’ve decided to leave it as it is for now and see how wet the plants get. If too wet, I’ll add a short strip of perspex to the top of just one side, as per reply to Jane and Lance above. As ever, it’s all a big experiment!

  3. Denise September 6, 2014 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    I LOVE going to the tip. I have made some good friends with the workmen (deliberately) and they always empty my car (did I mention I take biscuits?) A couple of years ago I saw a garden bench which they let me bring home – watch this space!

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      Denise, biscuits is very sneaky..

  4. Jo September 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    Brilliant. You’ve got a very clever man there, I should hang on to him if I were you.

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      Thankfully he loves constructing things, no shortage of projects on the list!

  5. Sue@GLAllotments September 6, 2014 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    Mike’s right it doesn’t come cheap. Sides could make it more resistant to the would and make it blow away and The plants being outdoor varieties maybe will benefit from the better air circulation. Is that a recycled coffee table?

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:08 pm - Reply

      It looks like a coffee table doesn’t it, albeit one with two legs shorter than the others! I thought it should be a museum display cabinet or information display.. But no, built from scratch, cut down perspex and odd bits of wood.

  6. Jacqueline September 6, 2014 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    Oh Jessica,
    Your Mike is a keeper …… I hope he had copious amounts of tea/coffee while he hammered and sawed away …….. what a brilliant idea and, how aesthetically pleasing too. XXXX

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:10 pm - Reply

      He had plenty of coffee.. and coming inside to make it (and mine) gave him a bit of a break too. 😉

  7. Antoinette September 6, 2014 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    Brilliant idea and they look fabulous 🙂 !

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks Antoinette!

  8. Alain September 6, 2014 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    How lucky to the have been at the right place just at the right time! They look great!

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      It was so weird that we’d just been discussing it. I am in trouble though because apparently we got offered a second sheet too. I thought of a use for it after Mike had turned it down.

  9. justjilluk September 6, 2014 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    What a lovely, clever man. I agree no sides.

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jill. If he reads all the comments his shirt buttons will pop off.

  10. Rosie September 6, 2014 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Strange things happen at our local dump too, but that is another story! You were meant to visit at that precise moment in time. the covers are a joy to behold – useful and beautiful too:)

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      I’m really hopeful that the alpines will survive the winter now. The mind boggles as to what happens at your dump!

  11. Chloris September 6, 2014 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    Sheer genius!

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      Am I allowed to say that there was input at the design stage??

  12. Caroline Taylor September 6, 2014 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    Brilliant! No perspex doesn’t come cheap, lucky you!

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:23 pm - Reply

      It may not last. I noticed in B&Q that the cheap stuff is not for outside use. But if it lasts us only a year or two what the heck? And the winter sun is not that strong so hopefully it will not cloud.

  13. Sue September 6, 2014 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    Brilliant. Serendipity!!

    I think open ended would be better for air flow and to stop the whole thing blowing away. What molly coddled plants you have 😉

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      I hope they realise just how molly coddled they are and respond with vigorous growth!

  14. Loree / danger garden September 6, 2014 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Nice! I need to make something similar to go over a big (heavy) container with agaves in it which is staying outside all winter.

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:30 pm - Reply

      I wonder if I could grow agaves if I did that..

  15. Helen September 6, 2014 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Those are brilliant, I might have to show my son and drop some hints. I think your husband could be on tk something.

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      They seemed quite easy to make. Obviously help was needed from an under carpenter from time to time. The tricky bit was getting the geometry set out to mark the angles for the sloping top.

  16. SeagullSuzie September 6, 2014 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    Well done hubby…I’m sure I say this a lot on your posts! Brilliant idea and it looks good too.

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      Thanks. It almost seems a shame to leave them out in the rain!

  17. Jay September 6, 2014 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    That is such a great idea, well done & what a successful trip to the dump.

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:40 pm - Reply

      If only every trip to the dump was as productive.

  18. Denise September 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    One man’s rubbish is another man’s (or lady gardener’s!) treasure. Excellent recycling, Jessica!

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:42 pm - Reply

      Our green credentials have moved up a notch.

  19. Freda September 6, 2014 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    What about that green garden mesh for the side? Breaks the wind but lets air through….

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      It’s the rain I really need to keep out, the horizontal sort! But a fine enough mesh might do that too, or at least reduce it a bit. Good thought, thanks Freda!

  20. Isabelle September 6, 2014 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    What a lovely post, it totally put a smile on my face 🙂

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      Thanks Isabelle!

  21. Sarah September 6, 2014 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    I always enjoy seeing Mike’s creations. We are a frequent visitor to our tip too with garden rubbish. Sarah x

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      It is amazing how much rubbish a garden generates. The skip at the dump is almost always nearly full.

  22. Amy at love made my home September 6, 2014 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    What a great find and a great way to put it to use as well!!! Your plants will definitely benefit from the protection from too much wet over the winter won’t they. xx

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:54 pm - Reply

      I hope so Amy. They are almost all new so it was worth it to try and keep them over winter.

  23. sustainablemum September 6, 2014 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful coincidence! I love it when my husband does this kind if thing too. They both look great hope it means they make it through the winter 🙂

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 8:57 pm - Reply

      They have no excuses now!

  24. Janet/Plantaliscious September 6, 2014 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    Nice job! You have an impressively handy man there. And in summer you have coffee tables!

    • Jessica September 6, 2014 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      There is a slight fall on the top, so the rain can run off… cups might slide a bit. A shame really because we do need an outside coffee (wine glass) table and I’m all for making things dual purpose!

      • Virginia September 7, 2014 at 2:10 am - Reply

        well, you could prop the legs temporarily when coffee or wine was in the offing, couldn’t you?

        • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 10:30 am - Reply


  25. CJ September 6, 2014 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    I am SO envious, oh to have a handy man about the place. You are lucky indeed. They are brilliant covers, those pretty alpines are going to be snug as bugs in there.

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 10:11 am - Reply

      They are going to be snug. But I will have to remember to take the covers off if we get a warm spell, or it will be fried alpines.

  26. Anna September 6, 2014 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Oh what serendipity Jessica and what a useful man you have at your disposal. Perfect plant umbrellas.

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 10:16 am - Reply

      Sometimes I wish we could have a cover like that over the entire garden. Such is life in the south west. Thanks Anna.

  27. Anna September 6, 2014 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    PS I forgot to say that we were in the Lake District last week where we visited a pub which had an old Singer sewing machine in the corridor. Your piglet feeding trough came to mind as soon as I saw it 🙂

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 10:19 am - Reply

      I started noticing them a lot more after we’d found ours. They have a multiplicity of uses. That sounds like my sort of pub too.

  28. Mark and Gaz September 6, 2014 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    Very smart looking rain shelters Jessica!

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 10:22 am - Reply

      Thanks guys. I wonder what they will look like after they’ve had a winter in the rain.. but the wood is sealed so hopefully not TOO bad.

  29. Alison September 7, 2014 at 12:50 am - Reply

    What a lucky duck you are, to have such a handy man! Those shelters are fabulous!

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 10:22 am - Reply

      Thanks Alison. I’ve struggled so much with alpines in containers, I hope this will solve it.

  30. Virginia September 7, 2014 at 2:08 am - Reply

    Your Mike’s ‘blood’s worth bottling’ as my favourite aunt was wont to say! I stared at the photo and thought – but I paid the equivalent of 500 quid for a coffee table just like that! Certainly it has toughened glass and a lower shelf, but Mike’s is way too gorgeous to be out in the elements!!

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 10:29 am - Reply

      I had thought of commissioning him to make a pukka one for indoors.. he needs a winter project or two.

  31. Jayne Hill September 7, 2014 at 7:14 am - Reply

    Excellent 🙂 I thought, to start with, that you’d found a glass-topped coffee table at the dump. Silly me, I should have known better.
    Fabulous idea and will be added to the “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” list. I don’t have troughs like yours because I KNOW they will rot in winter … perhaps this is the way forward for us (although up here they will need to be bolted down or they’ll blow away)

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 10:36 am - Reply

      There is a cunning plan, in the form of a couple of lengths of bungee cord to go under the sink and over the top of the cover. The piglet trough is even easier because there are readily available bolt sized holes on the top surface of the Singer stand..

  32. paxton3 September 7, 2014 at 9:54 am - Reply

    I love swapsies at the dump!
    Leanne xx

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 10:37 am - Reply

      It is quite amazing what people throw away.

  33. Vera September 7, 2014 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    Oh well done that man! Can we borrow him?

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 6:28 pm - Reply

      Yes, provided I can come too..

  34. woolythymes September 7, 2014 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    totally awesome solution…..so pretty, so useful, so environmentally correct!!!! the trifecta!

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      It better work now, after all this build up..

  35. Donna@GardensEyeView September 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    How ingenious…I agree the windy side would help with some protection of course just my opinion.

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 6:32 pm - Reply

      I think a narrow strip at the top of that side, as on the piglet feeder, just to keep the worst of the rain out but retain ventilation.

  36. Cathy September 7, 2014 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Haven’t noticed your piglet feeder/sewing machine before – I want one too! (of the former, have the latter!). And why play down your design input – it wouldn’t be just what you wanted otherwise. Our handy men can be so focussed on their projects that they can otherwise forget basic design/practical issues which are obvious to our critical eyes 🙂

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      Exactly so Cathy. ‘Critical’ is a word that gets used often here too. But surely the end result is far superior with the benefit of a bit of constructive discussion.

  37. snowbird September 7, 2014 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Wow, talk about being in the right place at the right time! I love them, and how unique they are too! Mike sure is a trooper can I borrow him for a few days? pretty please??? You can also use the large one for an outdoor table in the summer, win win!xxx

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      It would need a couple of chocks under the front legs. The top slopes a bit to let the rain run off. Wouldn’t want my wine glass to slither off too..

      • snowbird September 9, 2014 at 12:50 am - Reply

        Struth! No…..!

        • Jessica September 9, 2014 at 9:45 am - Reply

          Doesn’t bear thinking about does it 😉

  38. islandthreads September 7, 2014 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    whose a lucky girl then, lucky twice over, being in the right place at the right time and having a live in handyman, they look great Jessica, well done Mike, Frances

    • Jessica September 7, 2014 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      I felt I had to do something to keep the rain off. As ever, now Mike has got a hold of it, it’s come a long way from the sheet of perspex resting on a couple of piles of bricks that I had first envisaged. Thanks Frances.

  39. Charlie@Seattle Trekker September 8, 2014 at 3:47 am - Reply

    The creativity that comes from the human spirit is quite amazing.

    • Jessica September 8, 2014 at 7:47 am - Reply

      Having a problem to solve is a great stimulus.

  40. hoehoegrow September 8, 2014 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    Executive Rain hats ! Just what alpines need ! My poor old things have to face the weather without protection, and, they don’t like it either! My sink is full of sempervivens which sulk at Olympian level … until my fantail doves devour them as snacks!

    • Jessica September 9, 2014 at 9:42 am - Reply

      Fantail doves… wonderful, I must have missed those. Although it sounds as if they are about as well behaved as our pheasants!

  41. CherryPie September 9, 2014 at 12:51 am - Reply

    The first production looks rather like a coffee table to me 😉 where are the chairs and cakes 🙂

    • Jessica September 9, 2014 at 9:46 am - Reply

      Fear not, they are there.. just out of shot!!

  42. frayed at the edge September 9, 2014 at 8:29 am - Reply

    Aren’t we lucky with our inventive, practical husbands – just suggest you need something and it is made!!

    • Jessica September 9, 2014 at 9:47 am - Reply

      Thankfully Mike enjoys making things, it helps a lot.

  43. Christina September 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    Clever! Don’t knock the dump, here in Italy they hardly exist or if they do are only open on the 3rd Monday of the Month and only then when there’s an ‘R’ in the month or something like that anyway! which of course means that most Italian just drive out into the countryside and dump everything by the side of the road.

    • Jessica September 9, 2014 at 1:12 pm - Reply

      I wouldn’t dream of knocking the dump… we depend on it! And it’s great when a little bonus like this pops out of it too. It’s just that they are very picky about what goes into what skip, understandably so I guess as otherwise some poor soul is going to have to get in amongst it and re-sort it all for recycling. Fly tipping in the countryside is not good at all.

  44. Crafty Gardener September 9, 2014 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    brilliant idea, let us know how it works out

    • Jessica September 9, 2014 at 7:50 pm - Reply

      Thanks Linda. As long as the plants get sufficient ventilation, it should be OK I think (hope). Another experiment!

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