Monday, August 1, 2016

A Regency-Style Garden Bench for The Frankentrees

Chronica Domus
Our new old garden bench is in dire need of attention
Photo: Chronica Domus


High summer has arrived and the garden has become an absorbing outdoor playground as of late.  I am currently in the midst of a project that is focused around our Frankentrees, the very trees that were the subject of a post I published two years ago.

I have been patiently training these apple trees into an arch, dreaming that one day I might set a pretty garden seat beneath it.  It would, I imagined, be a place for this gentlewoman gardener to rest her weary body between the endless cycles of deadheading and weeding. 

Recently I happened across the garden bench of my dreams, an English Regency-style iron example. I believe it was made at the beginning of the twentieth century and was originally painted bronze green but has since been painted white.  Its sturdy construction is far superior in quality to anything available for sale today at mass-market garden centers and big-box chains. Besides, this is not a style which one typically sees for sale at such outlets or elsewhere, come to think of it. I am, to say the least, tickled pink to have found it.

Chronica Domus
A Regency iron garden bench, circa 1810, with characteristic serpentine back and curved arms - the diamond-shaped embellishments make this bench much fancier than was typical of the era


Chronica Domus
Our Regency-style garden bench shares the same serpentine back and curved arms as the Regency example shown in the preceding photograph.  Notice, too, the similarities in the curlicues which decorate the top corners of both benches
Photo: Chronica Domus


The bench was perfect in every respect but one.  The painted surface was in such a state of degradation that it would literally fall away while being handled.  I spent the better part of two uncomfortably hot days with my face encased in a dust mask laboring and scraping - in between muttering words not fit for print - until, finally, the ghastly stuff had been eviscerated.

I had every intention of repainting the bench until discussing the matter with my husband who came up with an excellent suggestion.  The result, he promised, would provide a durable, long-lasting finish that would greatly delay the need for future maintenance.  Best of all, it would immediately relieve me of several more days of hard graft.  Now, how could I possibly argue with that logic? Thank you, dear!

Loading up the Volvo with our shabby-looking bench, we set off in search of West Coast Powder Coating, a small local workshop which performs minor miracles on all manner of metal objects, including this one:

Chronica Domus
A familiar item from the shores of the United Kingdom, a red K2 model telephone box
in the midst of receiving a facelift
Photo: Chronica Domus


We left our garden bench in the very capable hands of Chris and his team, having selected just the right shade of white and degree of gloss in the finish (70%).  By the way, Chris told me I need not have bothered scraping away the paint as the bench would be sandblasted prior to receiving its coat of primer and powder coating.

A week later, we returned to find this:

Chronica Domus
Chris rightly beams with pride and joy as he shows off the workmanship involved in resurrecting
our Regency-style garden seat
Photo: Chronica Domus  


We could not be more pleased with the skillful work Chris and his team performed, insuring our old garden bench will be enjoyed for many years to come.  The industrial-strength finish, he tells us, should last for many years.

The hard toil is certainly not over yet (is it ever "over" when it comes to the garden?).  Plans are afoot to complete the area around the Frankentrees and directly beneath the bench.  For now, I can at least rest my wicker basket upon our garden's newly restored installation while I gather the remainder of the apple harvest, which arrived rather early this year.    

Chronica Domus
Rosy-hued apples await picking
Photo: Chronica Domus

Chronica Domus
Finally! The perfect Regency-style garden bench to place beneath the apple arch
Photo: Chronica Domus


I do hope you enjoyed reading about the revival of this particular garden bench and that it might inspire you too to breath new life into a tired piece of outdoor furniture.


West Coast Powder Coating
165 Mitchell Ave, South San Francisco, CA
Tel: (650) 871-0400

Nota bene: I am neither paid nor do I receive recompense in exchange for applauding products or services within my blog.  I do so because I enjoy them.  If you are a kindred spirit, you too enjoy recommending nice things to fellow good eggs.

22 comments:

  1. Tres charmant!! And well worth the wait and labor. What a sweet profile, and the new colour and finish are perfect for the applespot.

    says rachel, eagerly awaiting a Tree Man of my own, who will tend gently to several wind-injuries of The Tree, and lend a more sedate air to her coiffure.

    All our benches are well-worn, birdie-blessed and the iron one is in the chippy-paint stage, as well, and dares you to set your shorts-clad beehind on the slats. I think I'm gonna save my professional-painting budget for this big old black Franklin stove. Sis had the twin done in Navy Blue enamel, and it's spiffy, indeed. I wonder what it would be like to HAVE a Pink Elephant in the room.

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    1. Hello racheld,

      So pleased you agree that the new old garden seat was worth the wait. I think it really does suit the space perfectly, beneath the fruiting apple arch.

      I adored your charming description of your time-worn benches and can just imagine your old stove with its rosy hew, a conversation piece if ever there was one.

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  2. Yet another charming post that has me reminiscing CD as the reception you got from Chris and the boys at West Coast Poeder Coating. When GSL was a wee lad of about 24, I frequented the OTB where all the Taylor Street Italians assembled and paid homage to my late friend and ex-prize fighter, King, when one of the older Italians just released from prison gave me an index finger summons that still gives me cold sweats on moonless nights. Old Italian Parolee handed me a 4 inch thick manila envelop and instructs me to courier to Tiger's Body Shop only a brisk walk from Wrigley Field where I had just mentioned heading. Taking that envelope on the Brown Line gave me all the comfort of an ill-fitting suicide vest. Upon arrival I inquired as to Tiger's whereabouts and a large hairy limb extended from a 6 foot 8 300 pound Serbian towards my parcel along with a gutteral groan that I understood to be Eastern European Menace. What followed wasthe longedt 90 seconds of my life as her audited parcel contents in a back room before motioning I was free to go.
    Word back then was Tiger's Body Shop could field dress a late model 7 Series Beamer and deliver to Central American Drug Lord in 24 hours.

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    1. Well GSL, after THAT story, I think I'll stick with Chris and his team of marvelous miracle metal workers. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to take a restorative sit-down upon my new garden seat to recover.

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  3. I love your bench seat and super jealous of how perfect it is!! I'm also now kicking myself anew after putting in too low a bid on an original Coalbrookdale fern pattern outdoor seat. It was not identified as such in the catalogue (the local estate auction which has all sorts of rubbish mixed in), and had a very, very low estimate. Well unfortunately it seems two others also saw and identified it, and it went for a bit over my absentee bid (but not at its full value. Woe is me).
    We had all the original cast iron on our veranda and front fence taken off to be sandblasted and powder coated. Worth every cent. To have banished the rust and the ongoing maintenence is priceless. You will get great pleasure from that little seat for years to come, I am certain

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    1. Oh Heidi, thank you! So pleased you think our new old garden seat is perfect (me too!). I am also delighted at your assurances that the effort and expense involved in having the seat powder coated will reward us for many years to come, which was, after all, our goal.

      How disappointing to have missed out on your Coalbrookdale seat. I've never been successful with absentee bids and I think that has everything to do with the frisson of excitement in the auction room, where bidders can quite easily lose their head and over-bid. Of course, it doesn't help that one never forgets the "one that got away". Ugh! I wish you much luck in finding another outdoor seat for your beautiful garden soon.

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  4. So excellent! I love that style of ironwork - all ironwork really - and it looks wonderful there with your apple trees. A good bench is pretty important for a gardener, it gives us a place to contemplate and a little break, as you say, to help us keep going.

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    1. Oh, thank you, Lisa. I'm enjoying my garden seat immensely and now I'd love another to place at the opposite end of the garden. What are the chances of finding its twin I wonder?

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  5. What a charming bench for a lovely garden. We used to have patio furniture that was powder coated. It's such a great way to finish something exposed to the elements.
    Karen

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    1. Hello Karen,

      I'll agree it is a charming bench but as for a lovely garden, well, I'm working on that! I cannot wait to finish the area in which the bench is currently situated, but as a gardener yourself, you know how long that takes. Is it ever truly "done"?

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  6. The bench looks a treat and very inviting! I have completely neglected oiling my bench and otudoor furniture this year so now I feel useless! But in my head I would like to paint int a certain color but truth is I don't think I am even going to put that on my to do list bc I will feel such a failure...

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    1. I'm intrigued, what type of outdoor furniture requires oiling? I'm guessing the wooden variety. Oh, and don't feel too bad, you should see my "to do" list. I'm secretly avoiding it although I'll inevitably regret it. Ah well, such is summer life!

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    2. my old school wooden benches otherwise it rots!

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    3. Ah, that makes sense. Happy oiling to you!

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  7. Jane Austen would have been pleased to sit on your bench. It looks tailor-made for your garden, but would also be at home in Bath. I think your apple trees look pretty pleased as well.
    Best,
    kL Gaylin

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    1. Oh yes, Miss Austen, I would imagine, would approve! Perhaps in my next life I'll move to Bath, my favorite city in all of England, and take my bench with me.

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  8. Hello CD, Congratulations on finding the perfect vintage bench, then taking the pains to have it refinished properly. Thank you for the tip on the powder coating, especially the part that says you don't have to scrape first!

    When we used to have an apple tree, we installed by it an old-fashioned slatted-wood swing bench (the kind often seen in 19th century photos), which gave a different look, but also perfect for the tree and yard.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim, and thank you. I am hopeful that the finish will outlast any shoddy paint job I might have attempted on it. Actually, my husband who recommended we have the seat powder coated, told me of an iron fence he passes regularly by the San Francisco Bay. One section (the gate) was powder coated. The other bits were painted. He tells me that he often sees painters touching up the paint job but never the gate.

      I would love to have a mature apple tree where the weight of a wooden-slatted swing would not damage the branches. My Frankentrees are many years from maturity and sit close to an ivy-covered fence so no swinging in their future I'm afraid.

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  9. What a lovely apple harvest!
    I was considering putting in a few espaliered apples and was happy to see that they grow so well in San Francisco.
    Do you happen to live in a part of the city that gets a lot of sun?

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    1. Hello rosekraft, and thank you for your comment.

      We are lucky to receive much sun in our garden, but more importantly, it is sheltered from the damaging effects of the gale force winds that barrel down the front of our house. I can't seem to grow much there I am afraid.

      I'd encourage you to plant apples as our cooler summers and mild winters make for tasty fruits. I purchased our two Frankentrees from Half Moon Bay nursery down the coast many years ago, which is also where I found our Santa Rosa plum tree which does well too.

      All the best with your planting and do please come back and visit Chronica Domus again.

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  10. Very pretty! I love that. It looks like a tranquil spot.

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    1. Thank you, Jen. Tranquility is a good thing.

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