Wednesday Vignette – missing the Rustbelt…


Went shopping for metal yesterday. It was more of a curiosity trip as I had no real goals to fulfill – I just wanted to see what was available. It’s been years since I shopped for scrap metal, and in those days I lived in Ohio – smack in the middle of the Rustbelt. As you can imagine, it was marvelous, and the selection was fantastic! And back then, at steel costing only 12 cents per pound, I was in heaven, even though the pounds tend to add up quickly.

This was a different experience. By now, scrap steel sells at 50 cents a pound. I’m not sure if that price is both reflective of rising costs on the commodities market, and the fact that steel industries aren’t half as abundant out here in the west, but I imagine both those facts have to do with it. Anyway, I had a fun hour there, and found one thing I can probably have some fun with.


There were abundant and varying lengths of piping that I though could be very useful to a cramscaper like myself, but the thick gauge of the steel made the cost rather prohibitive. A 1-foot piece of a 13″ diameter pipe clocked in at $22. Not too bad considering what one normally has to pay for a decent sized planter, but still… it’s scrap metal, for heavens sake!  Even though they can be relatively easily moved by rolling, the thickness of the metal made them both cumbersome and more expensive than they needed to be. And honestly, too heavy for me to lift. The staggered tubular planters I had in mind would no doubt look great, but, at that gauge, be way over-engineered, so I abstained. That will be a project for another day, with skimpier pipes. Next time…

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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20 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – missing the Rustbelt…

  1. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Ooh, those pipe planters would be way cool but it would be nice to have something lighter and cheaper.

    • annamadeit says:

      Yeah, I looked around for thinner piping, but didn’t see any. Which I suppose doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, in some form or other… But the money – frankly, I would rather spend that on plants!

  2. Where did you live in Ohio? And for how long? That’s where I grew up.

    • annamadeit says:

      Really? I lived in Columbus for a total of maybe 6-7 years, and got my education in Cincinnati, so another 6 years there. When we moved back from Sweden, we spent a year in Cleveland. Where did you live?

  3. Kris P says:

    Rusty metal things appeal to me too but, while LA almost certainly has scrap metal yards, I haven’t a clue where they are. My husband would probably think I’m crazy if I dragged him (and, more importantly, his truck) on a mission to buy some but then I expect he already thinks I’m crazy when it comes to garden paraphernalia…

  4. hb says:

    Well at least you got some cool photos. Ohio…that must have been interesting.

    There’s a scrap place here with purportedly great stuff, and I almost got there this year, but then summer hit, so it must wait until it cools off in October.

    • annamadeit says:

      Ohio was a lot of fun, albeit not visually very interesting. (Although it has its gems.) It’s scrap yards blow anything I’ve seen out here out of the water. Great stuff!

  5. Alison says:

    Is this the same scrap metal place that Patricia goes to? I’d love to know where it is, maybe next time I’m in PDX I’ll check it out. I love rusty stuff.

    • annamadeit says:

      You know – I’m not sure… if it is, she and Bill must have cleaned anything of value out before I got there. (Learned later that they too went rust-hopping that day. )

  6. bergstromskan says:

    The two sides of a gardener, iron and plants. What a spectrum……..

  7. we live one mile from an old lumber mill that is being taken from a heap of logs and rocks and rusty old metal into usable land. whatever old rusty bits i find are virtually free. with the dangerous piles, wasps nests and rattlesnakes it is an adventure. i love rusty old anything. our local scrap metal place is crazy expensive. i do not even go there to look for fun anymore.

  8. annamadeit says:

    I have a soft spot for rusted old farm equipment and machinery too, Willow. All the huge cog wheels are just fabulous! Not sure I would brave the rattlesnakes without an escort, though. Yikes! Didn’t even know there were rattlers in Oregon…

  9. Someday I’ll get out to one of these places. I haven’t even stopped at the Steel Yard on Columbia yet!

  10. We have an interesting ‘scrap’ yard about 2 miles from our house. He is only open on Friday and Saturday afternoons. I found some great small trellis there – got 6 for a dollar each. Sometimes it’s treasure…sometimes it’s just dirty pants and rusty hands. But the hunt is the fun part. 😉

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