April 1, 2009

Beauty In the Eye of the Beholder

A tomato cage is a simple thing--a few wire circles attached to three long wire prongs. For $1.49 each at K-mart I was able to buy 42" tomato cages for my new "husky" cherry tomato plants. (I'm assuming that in this instance husky translates to sturdy and prolific.) I unstacked about seven cages and picked out two with minimal distortions and with all necessary solderings intact. That probably should have ended my consideration of tomato cages.

However, I have a strange fascination with these wire structures. When we lived near Washington D.C., where my front door planters refused to sustain any plant life in the winter months, I once adorned the planters with upside down tomato cages that were draped with red and green chile pepper lights, and voila...two lovely outdoor Christmas trees. Believe me, my neighbors were very impressed with this creative display. Alas, this feat was not captured on film but I did find a picture of a kindred spirit's effort. I'm sure you get the idea.

But my strange obsession with cages doesn't end there. A few weeks ago when I was visiting Nora I spotted stacks of beautiful brightly colored tomato cages in the garden section of a drugstore. I was immediately drawn to them, and just as quickly repelled by their $24.99 price tag. Alas, as much as I coveted them, I would have to do without these gorgeous yet functional garden sculptures.

But yesterday I had a brainstorm... why couldn't I spray paint my K-mart cages a stunning color? I was already at Home Depot to pick out my tomatoes so it wasn't inconvenient to stop by the Rustoleum spray paint aisle. I considered all the color options and eventually selected a can of Key Lime (one of my new favorite colors). Neon green was too harsh and Apple Green, which was in the running for a while, was just too safe. The cages are hard to pick out in the photo because of the green background, but they are lovely. When they were drying on the lawn I thought how fun it would be to have an outdoor party and fill the yard with all different colors and sizes of tomato cages--maybe add a few ribbons and some little chimes?

Eventually I stopped admiring my cleverness and used the tomato cages for their original purpose. The tomato plants look like they are loving their beautiful new cages, and I am sure I will have they will be inspired to produce a bumper crop this year. I'm not sure how Paul will feel about our Key Lime sculptures, but the flamingos certainly seem to like them. Me, too.


Anonymous said...

The best way to support your tomato plants is with the The Tomato Stake.

Easier to use than metal tomato cages, stronger than bamboo and won't rot or splinter like wood stakes.

Patty P said...

You're an artist! I love the idea of spray painting the cages. I think I have a project to do today...