Courtesy of Wikipedia, zinc is a metallic/chemical element-the 24th most abundant of all of the elements as detailed on the periodic table. It is an essential element to human health. But its largest use by far and away is as a coating on steel which resists corrosion. These watering cans are made of sheet steel, which is them submerged in a bath of molten zinc. That thin coating prevents the steel from rusting. Should you have an old metal watering can, chances are good that the zinc has worn away in spots, and the steel has begun to rust. Galvanized metal is a garden material common in watering cans, cattle and chain link fencing, chicken wire, tools, wheelbarrows-the list is long.
This is a reproduction of an old French cabinet with zinc drawers. This zinc has a decidedly bluish cast. The sheet steel from which the drawers are made is very thin, and therefore light weight. The distressed white wood frame and zinc coated drawers makes for a cabinet that is very light, good looking, and utilitarian. What would I store in this? Seeds, twine, replacement blades for my pruners, garden gloves-you get the idea.
Zinc coated steel is such a familiar material in the garden. This vintage English sink is kept company by a vintage handled bucket, and an oval washtub. To the very far right, a vintage French wash tub. The material is common in many cultures, for useful objects for farm, home, and garden.
This very tall flat backed galvanized basket was originally used to gather grapes. There are faint signs of rust where the moldings are applied over the body of the basket. Imagine zinc heated to 800 degrees, transforming it from a solid to a liquid state. A steel object is slowly lowered into this bath, and then slowly raised out and drained. The coating is very thin, but thick enough to prevent rust. Just about every activity in a garden involves water. From the sky, from the hose, from the soil, from sweat. Galvanizing greatly improves the longevity of steel outdoors. Vintage and antique galvanized metal objects for the garden invariably show signs of rust. Steel and water make rust.
The window boxes at the shop, and the boxes on the roof are made from galvanized sheet steel. This year, I need to replace them. After 11 years in service, the zinc has worn through in many places. The failure of the zinc means a degradation of the steel. In a word-rust. The bottoms of my boxes are rusting out. I need new zinc coated boxes. These perforated zinc buckets show signs of rust, but not enough to worry me. They look like they have had some use. That vintage rusty look is a good one.
This is another reproduction of a cabinet from a French original. 5 drawers, and 10 cubbies. Vintage style is easy to speak for, and assimilate. My old buckets and watering cans-I would not dream of giving them up. They have that comfortably worn look that reminds me of a favorite pair of boots-as does this zinc cabinet.
These galvanized steel finials are also reproductions. They have a gently and convincingly degraded coat of paint. The design is great-saucy. The reproduction part means that a number of gardeners could have them. I have no problem with reproduction pieces in the garden. I only have a problem if they are not visually convincing. This surface is entirely convincing. The designer for this company-she understands how a piece should feel, and she works very hard to endow, and construct her pieces with that feeling.
This sideboard is hers. The wood console has a zinc coated steel top, studded with rivets. The column legs are reminiscent of Moorish design to my eye, though her original is a French piece. Spring at the shop will feature garden ornament in a wide range of styles and periods. But it will have a decidedly French flavor. Great French glazed terra cotta, and French antique sculptures, urns, and vintage French pieces. These reproduction pieces appeal to my love of all things French, but they also appeal to my interest in a designer who has a passion she is willing to see through the construction. Outdoors, the wood in this console would continue to degrade. There are those gardeners who greatly prize what we call weathered. So place this console in the garden, and deal with the consequences. Indoors, or on a covered porch, this table would lastingly and clearly speak to the garden-with a French flavor.
I did buy a number of zinc coated steel cabinets and cubbies from her, from the French originals. I fell for the garden like look, the blue grey of the zinc, the vintage feel, and the possibilities. What would you store in drawer number 7? Old letters? Embroidery floss? Garden tools? Votive candles? Dog treats? A flashlight? You choose.
This vintage English garden table with painted steel legs and a zinc top (yes, solid zinc is available in sheets) has some new company-8 new galvanized steel garden chairs. These chairs just arrived. The wirework of the backs and legs is a great foil to the sheet steel zinc coated seats. Steel, galvanized with molten zinc, in this case, would enable a seated dinner party in the garden. I truly like this idea. I even more like the idea that any ornament in the garden has a name, an idea, an aesthetic, a point of view. Passionate gardeners, I belong to their group.