Valentina Karelina and Yury Karelin are the parents of a very creative friend of mine. She happened to mention that her parents had created a garden out of plastic bottles. As a lover of all things recycled, I asked if she would send me some images, and let me interview her.
Where do your parents live ?
They live in a small rural Russian town about 250 km 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 20-30C whilst the winters are cold minus 15-30C.
What gave them the idea 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. They mostly make everything out of plastic in winter and then put their art out into their 4 acre garden, in the spring.
Does Russia have a big waste problem like we do in the UK?
Russia, has a big waste problem and because there are vast swathes of forest going on for thousand of miles, the plastic rubbish is often just dumped in the middle of them.
Where did they find all the items to create the garden and how much has it cost to put the whole thing together?
They collect bottles from their friends and relatives. All the plastic is basically empty discarded bottles, caps, buckets etc. It’s 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!
Have they painted the bottles? If so what with?
They spray paint the inside of the bottles so the paint doesn’t wash out during the rainy season.
Do they use a mixture of painted and non-painted?
Yes, if the bottle is lets 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. If the bottle is clear plastic then they paint it.
How long did it take to put together? Is it still ongoing? They started 3 years ago and they make new pieces all the time!