The upcycled garden


The upcycled garden by Juliet Bawden

When Reloved designer, Juliet Bawden, heard about an upcycled garden in Russia that made use of discarded plastic bottles she was keen to hear more.  Here she talks to the gardener’s daughter.

For the past three years Valentina Karelina and Yury Karelin have been transforming their outside space using plastic rubbish donated by friends and some that they find discarded in the local Russian countryside. Not only are they turning a garden in a beautiful space to be, but they are helping to clean up their local forests. I asked their daughter about how their project began and evolved…

Where is the garden?
In a small rural Russian town about 250km from Moscow. The population is approximately 30,000 but is dwindling as young people are moving away to cities where there are more job opportunities. The summers are hot between 20 to 30˚C whilst the winters are very cold -15 to -30˚C.

Where did the idea come from to create this magical garden?
The overwhelming amount of plastic that was being thrown away and the desire to do something creative and fun during long winter evenings. My parents mostly make everything out of plastic during the winter months and then install their art into their four-acre garden, throughout the spring. Creating the features of the garden is labour intensive but not expensive. When one has the desire to create you don’t notice how much time you spend on it, as you enjoy it so much!

What are the elements of the garden made from?
My parents collect bottles from their friends and relatives, as well as collecting it from the countryside. Russia, has a big waste problem and because there are vast swathes of forest going on for thousands of miles, the plastic rubbish is often just dumped in the middle of them. All the plastic is basically empty discarded bottles, caps, buckets etc.

Do they use a mixture of painted and non-painted?
Yes, if the bottle is let’s say green then they leave it as it is. For instance they are currently doing a flower bouquet from bottles hence green is very relevant. To get different colours, they spray paint the inside of the clear bottles so the paint doesn’t wash out during the rainy season.

How long did it take to put together? Is it still on going?
They started three years ago and they make new pieces all the time!

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