When is a metal planter not right?

When it comes to choosing a container for your garden there are a myriad to choose from. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. As well as all the colours under the rainbow. Also, they can be made from a wide range of materials, making it difficult to know which is the best. There are advantages and disadvantages for most of them, but let’s consider two of the most popular. Metal and plastic containers tend to be the container of choice for a great many people. With metal being a very trendy option at present. On the surface it appears to be a durable material to choose. But there are a number of reasons why such a choice should be carefully weighed up. Because metal is not always good for the garden.

The problems associated with metal containers

metal containerThere’s no denying that metal containers can be a very attractive and decorative choice. They are extremely hard-wearing and it’s highly unlikely they will chip or crack. However, little insulation is provided and they tend to heat up very quickly. Both of which can be serious problems for the roots inside. The soil will freeze easily and also dry out. Both of which can cause serious damage to the roots.

You also need to be aware that metal will not provide any drainage and holes will need to be drilled in the bottom of the container to allow excess water to escape. Weight is another consideration to bear in mind because some metal containers can be exceedingly heavy. And when filled with soil and plants it will be difficult to move them.

Plastic containers could be a better option

plastic containers for gardeningWe’re not champions of any kind of plastic container but there are certain times when they have their advantages. To start with plastic is very versatile and can be made to look like many other materials, without the associated cost. They are also available in the complete spectrum of colours. It’s a cheap material to use, which is why most plants, when bought from a commercial grower, come in a plastic container. There are few restrictions regarding shape and size, when it comes to making plastic containers and are light and easy to move around.

There are, however, problems associated with plastic containers too. How many times have you read about plastic being a problem when it comes to disposal. The oceans are swimming with it, it doesn’t degrade so can’t be put in landfills, it can be recycled but the process is very expensive, the list goes on. Unfortunately, plastic doesn’t hold up well when it’s exposed to sunlight, water and high temperatures. Certain type of plastic can leach very toxic chemicals into the soil, many of which are hazardous to humans. Before you spend any money on plastic containers be sure to check the underside where there are numbers marked that indicate the type of plastic it is made from. The safest for growing edible plants are 1,2,4 and 5.

So there you have it. Both metal and plastic have benefits, but they also have their issues too. It really depends on what you are looking for, the type of plants you will be planting, the location of the containers and what kind of style you’re trying to create in your garden.

Beware The Tupperware Wicker Man

You might be wondering why there’s been very little mention of what’s been happening at Butler Sheetmetal and Tinpot Alley as of late.

Whilst you might be right in thinking that an ocean is quite a barrier to internal company communication, it’s had more to do with the fact that I’ve misplaced the lead to my camera and am unable to upload any of the pictures I took before I left. Either that or the dogs have been flossing with it.

In the absence of a photographic crutch I’ll just have to fall back on that other trusty canvas – wordplay.

Last month saw the Trawden Garden Festival take place for however many times it’s taken place, but this year was the first time that my sister and John had taken part. Now Trawden is a funny place owing to it being a village, albeit a rather sizeable one. And, as with all villages, it’s a law unto itself.

The Trawden Garden Festival’s main thrust is a scarecrow competition where all the natives make a scarecrow of some description and plonk it in their front garden for all and sundry to see as they drive through. Ideally your scarecrow should be a character, but so long as your Blue Peter skills are finely honed then you should be OK. Although, this past couple of years, they’ve received grants to run scarecrow building workshops.

Unfortunately, the website for the event hasn’t been updated properly for this year’s competition so I’ll just show you an older picture instead of the type of thing we’re talking about.

Michael Jackson?

Whilst Amanda and John – well Amanada and the kids – built a scarecrow Geronimo for their own display, they also entered the container competition with one of our rusty planters, which, like I mentioned before, I don’t have a picture of.

It managed to romp home in first place smashing all the other entrants to all four corners of the village.

Well two corners of the village seeming there were only three entries to the competition including John’s.

But, as they say, you have to be in it to win it.

Plantpots and Bomb Plots

Stainless steel planter ribbed

Here’s something I’ve managed to resurrect from the Tinpot Alley stainless steel planters archive. (By that I mean that I’ve found an old lead to download pictures off my camera!)

There would’ve been more but some over zealous security chap prevented me from doing so in case I was casing the joint to bomb it. I’m sure after five days of worthless exhibiting I may have felt suitably miffed, but when you’ve had a big sign saying Tinpot Alley and most of your business cards handed out, I doubt if I’d have gotten away with it.

You may recall the collective Butler Sheetmetal Ltd breakdown that took place trying to get organised for that damn Canary Wharf exhibition. Well this picture proves that it was more than worth being plonked in the middle of an underground mall whilst most people stole pebbles, booted the balls and vented their fury at us for the poor state of the ‘garden show’ in general.

Although, we did manage to flog one of the bay trees. It would’ve been two, but the guy would’ve struggled carrying them both on the tube.

John’s become very philosophical about the whole affair and his twitch is hardly noticeable as he mutters ‘You live and learn’, or ‘Just put it down to experience.’

Anyway, the above ribbed stainless steel planter was by far and away the crowd favourite from a planter and plant perspective – until the price was mentioned, of course. (For the record, it’s a John design   )

No wonder we try and stick to bespoke.

Some Rusty Planter Pics

Do you recall how John trounced the competition alive in the Trawden Container Competition but I was unable to show you with what?

Well now I can.

This is the lovely little number that actually romped home in first place – not forgetting that there were only three entrants in the first place.

I never knew John had such a flair for planting.

And here’s a couple of cylindrical rusty planters in his back garden.

304 Stainless Should Do.

For designer stainless steel for your designer home, it has to be said that you can find all sorts over at Trendir. There’s still some life in that old stainless steel dog yet.

It’s not that I have a current thing for sinks at the moment, but here’s another that’s made from 16swg 304 stainless.

I do like how they throw the grade of stainless out there like a badge of honour.

They’re doing us a great favour by raising public awareness.

We regard 304 stainless as being a bit of a middle ranking stainless; it’s not as expensive or high a grade as 316, but it’s not nearly as cheap as 420.

We make most of our planters from 304 stainless as it looks the same as 316 and won’t cause you any real problems unless you’re leaving rusty spanners on them and you live on Blackpool front.

NeedIT – You Got IT!

I’ve well and truly learnt my lesson about spouting my mouth off, counting chickens and all that palava after the many disasters that have befallen mostly me to be fair.

Things like:

The Canary Wharf Garden Show. (Rubbish, sold bugger all and half-wrecked the hire van.)

Free photo shoot in Gardeners’ World. (They took the photos but never told us that the planters weren’t going to be in, but we still told all and sundry to buy a copy. (All and sundry then laughed at us.))

Planters on the telly.(Rushed around like loons for a paltry link from the Channel 4 website.)

Those three things are the ones that stick in the mind, but there’s one or two other things that also crashed and burned.

And the one thing they had in common?

I bleated mercilessly about every single one. I’ve become so convinced that any prior mention on this blog renders a project useless that I’ve decided to stop doing it so I don’t put a hex on anything. (I must be more superstitious than I let on.)

So, it’s with a certain amount of relief that I can report we’ve finally been approved for a NeedIT grant to invest in computer stuff and e-commerce.

This means that we’ll have a far better computer setup and we’ll finally be able to trade properly online and show our full product range as opposed to leaving it to your imagination.

We’ve spent enough time now with a computer that’s more tempremental than your average menopausal fishwife; it also has to be said that we’ve been awfully slack with things like brochures and other offline marketing efforts aswell – or at least that’s the conclusion me and John came to in the pub after six pints of Kronenburg. (You really don’t want to know of any conclusions drawn after that.)

It also just so happens that Robo-bender Matt and Deadly Derek have finally sorted out the press tool to make up square planters without the need to get them lasered. I think we might just have the production side screwed down. (More on that another day.)

It obviously would’ve been bloody marvellous if we’d sorted out the grant and the tooling before the spring/summer as opposed to afterwards, but the point is it’s sorted.

I’d also recommend using your local Business Link, who were extremely helpful and efficient in doing our micro business review and sending us down the right path.

Premiership Plantpots

Not too long ago John and myself had to deliver a house-load of tall hexagonal stainless planters to a certain footballer who currently plies his trade in the Premiership. Or, to be more exact, the reserves of a certain Premiership club.

We aren’t ones to drop names into converstions like your average drunk would drop an alka seltzer into a pint glass the morning after the night before. And besides, the vast majority of you won’t have heard of him.

In one of my prevoius incarnations as a furnishings emporium proprietor just over ten years ago, I remember both Stuart Ripley and Graeme Le Saux popping into my establishment one afternoon after training as we were located just round the corner from the Blackburn training ground.

It was round the time of Uncle Jack’s millions and either just before or after they’d won the Premiership.

Some of Jack’s millions well spent – finally.

Anyway, after Stuart Ripley had managed to cause an effect similar to a partial solar eclipse after turning to the right whilst browsing the shop window and I’d stopped mentally singing: ‘If Ripley plays for England, so can I’, we managed to build up a bit of a rapport with Mr. Le Saux and counted him as a bit of a regular. We also had to pop round his gaff once in a while to do certain bits of work.

At the time, Blackburn players were probably some of the best paid in the land and, whilst Mr. Le Saux had a lovely pad in Waddington, it didn’t have the equivalent of a plasma screen in every room, a pool table at the top of the stairs and a grand piano in the foyer.

It’s quite apparent that even second string footballers at second rate clubs are paid infinitely more than those of a not too distant yesteryear. But then again, you knew that anyway.

Oh, and when was the last time you saw a full safety net in place for a trampoline at working class kid’s house?

Well now I’ve managed to completely alienate the footballers’ wives portion of the market, it might be quite nice to see what shape swimming pool Rio Ferdinand has.

{Next week: How Freddie Flintoff shotgunned a planter-load of Lancaster Bomber]

Bespoke Stainless Steel at The Sheraton.

We got these pictures sent ot us of a pair of elongated bespoke stainless steel planters we fabricated for the Sheraton Hotel down at Heathrow Airport.

Here they are at either side of the foyer as you walk in.

Here’s one of them from the front.

Here’s one from an angle. (Although I’m sure you can see that for yourselves.)

And here’s one from the other side.

I hope these pictures give you some idea of the scale of the things as I don’t know the actual sizes.

Considering stainless steel photographs so appallingly as it tends to show up every single mark and fingerprint, I don’t think the chap who did these has done that bad a job.

Zintec Planters

Here’s a little job that we’re currently on with at the moment. It’s for an assortment of 27 zintec planters to be painted matt black for a garden archictecture firm down in London.

If you’re wondering who the guy is to the left lacking a posterior, it’s Matt.

They’re due to go for painting some time this afternoon.

We received the enquiry just before Christmas and sent them a sample once they were happy with the quote.

Stay tuned for pics once they’re finished!

Welcome to Tinpot Alley

Thanks for dropping by and visiting the main site/blog of Tinpot Alley.

You’ll get an overall idea of the type of metalwork we do ranging from stainless steel, rusted and painted metal planters to more ornate and complicated bespoke metalwork for modern interiors and exteriors.

You can browse our portfolio to view pictures of the varied types of work we can do and you can also click through our categories on the right-hand sidebar to find out about things in much more detail.

Please feel free to contact us if you have a query regarding anything you see on the site.