Antique Garden Tools

Great Gifts for the Indoor Gardener

Antique Garden Tools make great gifts for your self or for an Indoor Gardener you know. They can be used to tend your houseplants or as purely decorative items.

Others are more functional as non-functioning decor.

Before you buy, check prices on different Internet sites. Face-to-face, you might be able to bargain some.

Also remember that not all antique items keep their value, especially the small tools.

Some old tools can still be used.

If you like to re-purpose or create artworks with these pieces you change their value - usually more for you and less for others, unless you're a professional artist. If you are - create away!

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Wonderful for transplanting those grown-too-large-for-their-pot houseplants or just as decoration, the four-piece antique brass garden tool set comes ready to hang in a handy place. It's a great house-warming gift, especially for folks who've downsized and may need to move their gardening indoors.

Useful Antique Garden Tools

As with most things from the Good Ol' Days, garden tools were made to last. They were handed down from father to son, grandmother to granddaughter. Forged by blacksmiths in a furnace, 18th-century tools were often made of cast iron - heavy but durable. For indoor use, look especially for small trowels.

Watering cans started out heavy and cumbersome, also, made of clay. During the 1700s metal watering cans made their first appearance, the type of metal indicating the area of origin. A hundred years later lighter-weight tin-plate watering cans gained in popularity until the galvanized metal used by your grandparents or great-grandparents in the early 1900s replaced those.

Books About Antique Garden Tools

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Antique Garden Tools and Accessories, written by Myra Yellin Outwater and beautifully photographed by Eric B. Outwater, is a welcome coffee-table book any indoor gardener (or outdoor gardener, for that matter) will appreciate. Covering two centuries of garden tools in pictures and description, you'll learn how far -- and not so far! -- gardening tools have evolved.

Plant Markers and Garden Labels

Among the easiest to find antique garden tools - especially useful to the Indoor Gardener - are plant markers. Made of metal, earthenware, terra-cotta, or even wood, they can be found in clusters of like-minded plants, such as a grouping for herbs or for bulbs - the names of the plants already inscribed.

Look for them at garage sales, swap meets, flea markets, on eBay and at antiques and collectibles markets.

You can also find antique items newly crafted into plant markers. A collection of antique knives or spoons, for instance, provides a perfect surface on which to etch the names of your favorite - or hardest-to-remember - houseplants. They look great poking out above the soil of your planters.

Antique Garden Tools as Decoration

You may not want, or be able, to use the old tools you find the way they were meant to be used. Many of the small tools had wooden handles: time may have caused peeling paint and splintering. Watering cans, for instance, may have sprouted holes along the bottom from rust or just old age.

But antique garden tools still hold plenty of charm as decoration around your home. And as decoration, you're not limited by the size of the tools - you can use outdoor garden tools as well as indoor, which gives you a whole lot more to choose from. Let your imagination loose and re-purpose to your heart's delight.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Fill an old garden basket with dried or silk flowers

  • Use a French cloche as a planter or as a lampshade

  • Watering cans make great receptacles for dried, medium-height ornamental grasses or fresh-cut flowers

  • Keep pencils and pens organized in a soil scoop

  • Clean up an old garden gate and hang it behind your bed as a headboard

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While this isn't really an antique, it's finished to look like one. Functional as a garden hose reel outdoors, for the indoor gardener, it provides a wonderful visual element to a wall near your plants. Use it to hold a towel for those moments when you're watering and the planter overflows -- we've all had those mishaps!

Remember moderation is important in decorating - you probably don't want your living room to look like a crowded old barn. Be careful not to overpower your indoor space with lots of large outdoor tools. Choose carefully, create one or two small collections that you display together, and treasure your treasures from the past.

Caring for Your Old Tools

If you're using them in your indoor garden, be sure to clean them off and dry them after each use. Tools made from cast iron and natural substances can rust or crack from the weather. Wood handles need to be oiled: you can boil up some linseed oil and rub them with a soft cloth. Machine oil is better for metal.

Buying and Bragging

Like with most collectibles, the price of antique garden tools is on the rise. They're being sold through the Internet as well as through auction houses and antiques dealers. Don't overlook eBay and Craigslist as sources, though the few times I checked most of the items were outdoor gardening tools and rather large. And stop off at antiques fairs, flea markets, and swap meets - you may still be able to spot a real bargain!

Do you have any antique garden tools you use or display? Do you have a picture of them? Is there a story that you can tell us about them? Please share it with other visitors to -- just click here and use the contact Batya questions form. Maybe we'll even use the picture on this page - with proper credit given to you, of course!

For more ideas on Indoor Gardening Gifts
take a look at these pages:

Garden Calendars

Indoor Garden Figurines

Indoor Herb Garden

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