Looking for some ideas to reuse your rusty bike that is dying in a corner of the garage or shed? Don't junk the old bike, as many have done over the years, but instead give it some new life in your garden as a cute plant holder or stand.

As you will see with my visits with a few shop owners, they have bikes and photos of decorating with spray paints in bold colors, signs, and baskets or cans to hold plants. And if you love a vintage bike, this is the time of the year to restore it and ride.

Remember that first bike and the taste of freedom when you mastered that moment of balance on those two wheels and started to pedal off to new adventures?

Your old bike might have had those big balloon tires, a head lamp, reflectors, and a bell or horn. Maybe it had a big wire basket or a cute woven basket on the front. We can't forget taking a few playing or bubble gum cards that made a unique sound when clipped to the tire spokes with a clothespin. Maybe your bike was one of those with a glitzy banana seat with a rear "sissy bar" that gave you better performance for those wheelies by leaning back.

These bikes were great low-fliers over the ramps or blocks of wood like Evel Knievel. And the girls bikes with tassels hanging from the handlebars were so cute. These are memories of bikes still found at flea markets, antique shops and malls, up in attics, garage rafters and barns, and at yard sales, and not all of them have been sent out to the garden.

Finding and buying a bike

Bike collectors are as varied as the bikes they collect. Some folks have a few hundred, while some may just have one or two. Folks are buying and looking for vintage bikes because they want that old bike back as a way of regaining those memories of those fun and youthful times.

Vintage bikes range in price, depending on their condition and accessories, and most sell from $20 on up.

Before you begin to sand and repaint, check out one of my favorite books, “How to Restore Your Collector Bicycle” by William Love.

Sarah Kieffer, of Sarah's Uniques and Jim's “Man”tiques in St. Charles, said: “I love decorating with old bikes! They look wonderful in a garden, the porch, or alone with flowers creeping out of them. Bike baskets, or rear holders can really add space for beautiful flowers. My bikes generally range in price from $30 to $55.”

Brenda Jannsen, of Treasures Under Sugar Loaf in Winona, said: “Our porch will be open for dealers on May 15, where we will have bikes available, at $20 each. A cute rusty addition to any yard or garden!”

Carol Christopherson, owner of Oslo Antiques in Kasson, said, “We have a few bikes and one very cute bike — a 20-year painted pink girls bike for $28.95, with a recycled vegetable can for flowers.”

Vintage bikes are real conversation pieces when they are restored and used as a means of transportation to the local farmers market with your huge whitewall balloon tires, shiny bell and wicker basket filled with flowers and homemade breads.

By restoring these older bicycles, it not only keeps the history of bikes and bicycling alive, but it's also a great unique recycling project to do by yourself or with your children to share the memories.

Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer and certified appraiser concentrating on vintage, antique and collectible items. Send comments and story suggestions to Sandy at life@postbulletin.com.