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Posts Tagged ‘plant tables’

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Despite having a first-cleanup-of-the-year list that has spilled over into March, we took a day off, because we needed one, and because life is short.  Ed Strange stopped by mid morning, as he often does on a Sunday on his way to his garden maintenance job for the Shorebank building at the Port, two blocks from our house.  Because he is a morning person, he had already been to Seven Dees nursery all the way down in Seaside.

While we were visiting, he got a phone call to tell him that his puppy had been born.  He put in on speakerphone so Allan and I could both here the description of the 2 day old littermates.  The breeder talked baby talk to the pups.  We so look forward to the puppy arriving later this spring.

Ed and I listening to puppy talk.

Ed and I listening to puppy talk.

I showed off my Rustia, in prolific bloom.  It’s to the left in the photo above.  This is the plant that, when Ciscoe Morris visited my garden, caused him to say “Ooh la la! You don’t just have ordinary plants!”

Rustia

Rustia

rustia

 

rustia

We walked around the garden, and Ed laughed and said “I see you have your favourite plant in a garbage can; how appropriate.”  (He knows I’ve eliminated many phormiums over the last few years.)

phormium

Actually, that’s an idea I got from a restaurant garden near Heronswood Nursery, on a tour day several years back.

Phormium contained

Phormium contained at a restaurant near Kingston

Ed and I had a good long chat about work related topics.  We are both trying to reduce our schedules to allow more time for leisure.  I showed him our new tin garden sign and he wanted one, too.  When he departed for the Basket Case Greenhouse on a sign quest, I settled on my project for the day: cutting back hardy fuchsias in the back garden.  The air was chilly enough that I was not entirely happy to be outdoors at all, despite the sunshine, and the soil felt too cold to make weeding enjoyable.

Allan helped with three different projects (AND mowed the lawn).

First, he fixed my best plant table that I got from a “free” pile of stuff over on Spruce Street.

The underlying fabric had collapsed at one end.

The underlying material had collapsed at one end.

Inside the second hand table is a lip which used to hold a sheet of glass.

Inside the second hand table is a lip which used to hold a sheet of glass.

fixed with "two skinny planks and a small piece of plywood and a piece of bamboo"

fixed with “two skinny planks and a small piece of plywood and a piece of bamboo”

It was a mistake (mine!) to use asphalt roofing as the underlayment.  It should have been a piece of plywood with holes drilled in it.  I can see now that it will slowly need more fixing and replacement as the shingles sag.

Allan also removed the hardy fuchsia whose base was infested with horrid orange montbretia.  It is one of several of the same kind of hardy fuchsia magellanica so I did not lose anything special.

pick attack

pick attack

success!  It would have taken me a lot longer.

success! It would have taken me a lot longer.

all clear, and the only collateral damage was one big fat lily bud

all clear, and the only collateral damage was one big fat lily bud

I did decide to cut the big fuchsia that had new growth up high all the way to the ground.  I like walking through a forest of fuchsias, so I don’t know what possessed me except that the up high growth was thin, and the basal growth looked so thick and healthy.

chopped down

chopped down

I used to love the fuchsia walk at my old house, over behind the boatyard, in a garden so sheltered that the fuchsia magellanica turned into trees that were taller than me.

the fuchsia path

the fuchsia path

fuchsia walk, silver shed

fuchsia walk in winter at our old garden

In our new(ish) garden, a lot of winter wind is probably what causes the die back and lack of tree-like height.

golden ninebark

Physocarpus…golden ninebark

I was trying out my new Olympus camera today and perhaps it was the overcast day that led to a lack of detail.  Hmmm.

the center bed river of Geranium 'Rozanne'

the center bed river of Geranium ‘Rozanne’

I do love my blue Rozanne river in summer, and yet reading The Miserable Gardener blog by Bob Nold, the author of High and Dry, has made me cast about for more areas to put a scree garden.  I now have a small one by the garden boat, and yet…would not this center bed make an incredible scree garden?  I just don’t think I can give up my Rozanne effect though….even though it makes the garden all soft and fuzzy and not a home for special little things.  I loved his suggestion of using buried rubble of all sorts to build up the spine of a garden bed.

raised-beds

 

Maybe I can find room somewhere else in the garden….or next door in Nora’s yard, where her granddaughter said I could plant anything I wanted.  That would be a surprise!  I am grateful to her for letting us use her grandma’s parking pad for loading and unloading the trailer.

We created this much debris, and that's after Allan walked on it.

We created this much debris, and that’s after Allan walked on it.

Time to put out the bogsy wood sign, as one hopes no more big branches will fall from storms.

Time to put out the bogsy wood sign, as one hopes no more big branches will fall from storms.

narcissi by the bogsy woods

narcissi by the bogsy woods

Look at the growth on one of the peony starts that MaryBeth gave me!

Look at the growth on one of the peony starts that MaryBeth gave me!

I decided to clip the dead tips on my Leycesteria 'Golden Lanterns'

I decided to clip the dead tips on my Leycesteria ‘Golden Lanterns’.

after...rather tidier

after…rather tidier

Nearby, big fat lily buds emerging

Nearby, big fat lily shoots emerging

more

more lily shoots

Frosty was also checking out the garden.

Frosty was also checking out the garden.

crocuses and lily shoots

crocuses and lily shoots (and shotweed)

Oh, and I put up some fence slats that I got from the Long Beach city works debris pile.  (I did ask!)  They are just tied on the the fence behind which, later, will be a tarped pile of crab pots by the neighbours’ gear shed.  Now that they are in place, maybe Allan can help to affix them better.  He’s clever like that.

just tied in place with string

just tied in place with string…to stop the eye for eight slats wide, at least

The third project that Allan helped with today was putting up the new garden sign that we got at the Basket Case yesterday.  Ed had gone straight from our house to the Basket Case, gotten one of his own, and texted me a photo of it already up!  The pressure was on.  Allan still had to coat ours with a rust proof product and let it dry.

Ed's sign already up

Ed’s sign already up

I had suggested that ours go on the arbour on the front of the house.  Allan thought that would be too show-offy, so we compromised on the west side arbour, which still shows from the street.

centered on the west arbour

centered on the west arbour

garden

garden

He also added two stars that have been kicking around.

He also added two stars that have been kicking around.

star

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

I am now on a casual quest for something not quite as gaudy to decorate the top of the front arbour.

 

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My love of plant tables was inspired by George Schenk’s book Gardening on Pavement, Tables and Hard Surfaces and by a particular photo of one of his tables overflowing with moss and ferns.

I include among the ideas inspired by Mr Schenk the planting up of chairs and old trunks as well.

at KBC

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Above, an old wooden table with some soil piled on top, some sedums and a cluster of species tulips, the kind with quite small bulbs.  (The lavender and yellow one is Tulip bakeri ‘Lilac Wonder’.)

Below, in a somewhat barren new garden bed, a plant table at Golden Sands Assisted Living makes a focal point till the ground level fills in.  A bench usually sits next to this, giving the residents a close view of the tiny landscape.

at Golden Sands

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

I like to place little bits of broken pottery and china in among the plantings, but if the table is anywhere where someone might pick up a piece that is sharp, be careful what you use for decoration.

That same table had started its life in the garden at my mother’s before she moved to Golden Sands, along with this one:

mom's table

It gave my mom great pleasure to sit next to this little table garden.  That very same table is now in OUR garden again planted with sedums, so these little tablescapes can travel from garden to garden and transport memories with them.

mom's old table

mom’s old table in our brand new garden

In mom’s garden we also installed a fairy chair….

fairy chair

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Just before a garden tour, we bought a small selection of shady mosses and tiny shade perennials from The Basket Case Greenhouse and had an instant charming focal point in a rather unfocused garden bed.

fairy chair detail

The chair was free, the soil scooped off a garden bed, the little china piece was just kicking around, and the whole ensemble cost about $20.  We could have done it for free with a bit of moss and a fern from the shade bed but we did want a special selection of plants for tour day.

A similar chair has moved from our old garden to my mom’s garden and now to our new (ish) garden where Allan recently photographed it by lamplight.

evening chair

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

In another client’s garden a plant table has metamorphasized from a sedum display to a soft moss-scape perhaps due to dripping from the roof.

Marilyn's table

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Marilyn's moss table

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Our friend Annie brought this old office chair out into her garden and we planted it up with some bit of sedums and so on dug up from her path.

Annie's chair

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

It took less than half an hour to create and could be embellished with whatever she might like to add.

We were given a rickety round mesh table and turned it into a plantscape by laying a round piece of landscape fabric over the wire mesh top.  My friend Mike of the Garden of Mu had given me a collection of sedum and sempervivum starts from his garden so this is the miniature garden of Mu.

mini-Mu

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

It made a pretty focal point for a sit spot halfway down the stairs to the pond.

round table halfway down

round table halfway down

Plant tables are not permanent.  The round mesh one disintegrated when we tried to move it to our new garden, but the plants were saved and simply went onto a new tablescape.

One of my favourite tables is a rough slatty thing that we rescued from the debris area at the Long Beach (Washington) city works shop.  The flat board parts are great for displaying rusty bits of junk and the in between parts for filling with soil and plants.  It started out in the shade under a big tree…

shade table

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

….Then I decided I liked it better against the wall of an outbuilding….

shade table

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

…but because it was under a roof overhang and I tended to forget to water it, it ended up being more of an artscape than a tablescape.   It now sits in our new garden in full sun all planted up as the new mini Garden of Mu.

Anything flat topped can be dragged out of the house and planted up as I realized with two old trunks that had gotten mildewy smelling from sitting in the damp basement.  I knew they would only last a few years but why not get some beauty out of them in the meantime?

one old trunk

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Another old trunk sat by the patio as one entered our front door and I doubt that I ever failed to notice the precious plant gems that grew on it.

entry trunk detail

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

I would think of Lily, a dear friend who died of horrible ALS, every time I saw the frog bowl tucked in the back of this miniature landscape.  The brown pottery bit was from a friend’s garden, the rebar bits from my former partner’s welding projects.

trunk detail

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Because the entryway trunk was exposed to the rain and observed daily, the plants did much better than on that table tucked under the eaves of the work shed.  The rain also meant that when we went to move to our new house, the trunks were easily smashed into soft, discardable pieces!

So find yourself an old table…scoop up some soil and some small scale plants, add a flowerpot, some crockery, a little sculpture….and make yourself a miniature landscape.

another table

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Be prepared for nature to exert her decay, then scoop all your plants and items off of the old collapsed table and install them on a new table, chair, bench, or old trunk.

planted bench at Dragonfly Farms nursery

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Enjoy decorating the tiny landscapes with the little momentos that speak to you of your memories and your loved ones, and don’t be surprised if you are not the only one who likes the beauty that you’ve created out of almost nothing.

Maddy on a planted chair

Maddy on a planted chair

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Despite the best of intentions to productively cut back sword ferns, I got all distracted by doing a pretty thing: making a new plant table.  Inspired by the book “Gardening on Tables, Pavement, and Hard Surfaces” by George Schenk, I have several variations on plant tables in my garden and at the gardens of a couple of clients.  We had salvaged an interesting table from the Long Beach burn pile and with some soil, decorative junk, and a few plants, it became a new feature…while my friend Dumbledore the cat looked on with what I hope was approval.

At the end of the afternoon, I suddenly realized a certain columnar boxwood, one of three purchased from Dan Hinkley’s former nursery, had to be moved to the back of  a garden bed beause it was blocking too much of the view of other plants.  I had been trying for that lovely green spire look, but I want more colour and less good taste this year.  So back it went…quite a chore and I do hope it survives.  Boxwoods are easy from cuttings so I could make more from the other two…but it would take a long time to get back to the size and symmetry of the three matched ones.

Meanwhile, the garden is filled with the amazing scent of Hamamelis mollis, the winter blooming honeysuckle…it smells of warm apricots.  And I don’t even especially like to eat apricots, but the scent is divine.

Other tiny lovelies have appeared in the garden, too.  A determined little cyclamen was revealed when I moved some old branches aside, and while my mind has gone quite blank on the name of this lovely spear-shaped leaf, it does not care, and looks wonderful even though at this moment it remains anonymous.

Cyclamen and Arum Italicum ‘Pictum’

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