Friday, May 26, 2017

But I can't wait until July! Building my fern table...(it's my month end favorite)...

You may have noticed I've fallen hard for ferns. My purchases at the spring plant sales, and outings with friends, have fallen into two distinct groups, spikes and ferns. Extremes, with little in between. I'm featuring this project as my month end favorites post...

The fern tables I'd spotted at Joy Creek Nursery in Scappoose, and Swansons Nursery in Seattle really captured my attention. I'd seen them all in the depths of winter, and yet they still held my interest, so I'd been toying with the idea of making one of my own. On my recent trip to Joy Creek I was curious to see what their tables were looking like, now that spring has sprung...

They've certainly woken up!

The Saxifraga blooms annoy me just as much here as they do in my own garden.

I guess it's a personality defect.

Love that they've tucked the plant tags out of sight, but available, for curious customers.

Speaking of curious customers... (slug!)...

Once I decided I needed to build my own fern table I was excited to see none other than Richie Steffen (Curator at the Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle, and author of  The Plant Lover's Guide to Ferns) would be teaching a class at Joy Creek, "Ferns and How to Use Them to Create Fern Tables" a 2-hour workshop on Sunday, July 2, 2017 at 1 :00 p.m. (cost $10)...

"For those of you who have admired the fern tables in our retail area, come to this workshop to learn how to create your own! Joy Creek is happy to welcome Richie Steffen back to talk about the new book from Timber Press, The Plant Lover's Guide to Ferns, which he co-authored with Sue Olsen. As you will see during the first part of the afternoon, Richie is full of inventive ways for using ferns in the garden. He will show some of the best ferns for Northwest gardens and share tips on how to use them in the garden. During the second part of the afternoon, Richie will demonstrate how to create easy-to-assemble fern tables. These miniature landscapes are inspired by local Northwest Gardener George Schenk, author of Gardening on Pavement, Tables, & Hard Surfaces. Richie uses small plants, moss, rocks and weathered pieces of wood, to craft a distinctive focal point for your patio, deck, or entryway. He will also show how to care for the tables as they mature. They are irresistible! This is a two hour workshop with a 15 minute break. There is a $10 cost for this class.The proceeds for this fee help to defray costs for our speakers. Please call 503-543-7474 to RSVP and pay the day of the class in our retail area (the barn)."

Super! But once I decide I want to do something I am really bad about waiting. July 2nd is so far away!

So I bought the book referenced in the class description Gardening on Pavement, Tables, and Hard Surfaces, by George Schenk. And did a Google search to see what I could find online (this).

And decided to jump in!

Unfortunately the initial "jump" was not captured by the camera. I didn't think to break it out until the surface was prepared and the plants all gathered.

I wanted to have a galvanized metal base, after all galvanized metal plays a huge part in my garden and I knew it wouldn't look out of place. I found a short piece of ducting at the Rebuilding Center. I think it cost me a dollar. I was concerned it wouldn't be strong enough to hold the weight of the concrete slab, soil, and plants, so I drove three pieces of rebar into the ground inside the cylinder, placing them so they stood just a tiny bit higher than the metal.

Then I cut a piece of the rubber tubing I use with my dish-planters (I think it's what they use for ice maker/water line in refrigerators?) and worked it around the top of the metal. It helps create a grip, something better than just a thin piece of metal.

The concrete slab is from Mutual Materials, it's 18" square and matches the 24" sq pavers which we used to make up our pathway, patio and the loose checkerboard pattern under the shade pavilion.

The bits of wood I used to create the sides (which help to contain the soil until the roots can hold it all together) were ones I picked up along the beach last December, on our Christmas trip to the Oregon Coast. At the time I wasn't exactly sure what I would end up using them for, I had a few projects in mind...but not a fern table! I especially love this one...

Let's look at the plants...I tried to select hardy specimens, ones that could withstand wintering in-place, with no damage. However the siren song of this Arthropodium candidum 'Maculatum' (2 qty) was just too much for me to resist, it's a Zone 8 plant, which I've lost in the ground during a cold winter. They'll last as long as they do and that's that.

Saxifraga 'Primuloides' (2)...

Selaginella kraussiana 'Brownii' (2)

Athyrium filix-femina 'Limelight Lady' (2)

Thalictrum ichangense 'Evening Star' (1)

And Blechnum spicant (1)

Here I've placed two pieces of beach wood and a small chuck from an Arctostaphylos, which was later removed because it didn't seem to belong. Instead I used a length of mossy wood I found when scavenging for a couple pieces of basalt, one of which you see on the left. The author of Gardening on Pavement, Tables, and Hard Surfaces, Mr. George Schenk, was adamant that one should not use both wood and rocks when putting together a fern table. The clash of materials would be hard for the eye to understand, he wrote. While I disagree (and the examples from both nurseries mix up their materials) I did tend to hide my rocks, where as the wood plays a prominent role. Not a conscious decision, one that just happened.

I also fully intended to take lots of photos in-process, however once in engaged I forgot all about the camera (I think that's probably a good sign). Things were much further along when I remembered to pick it up again.

And here they were just about finished...

The final task was tucking in bits of moss to cover the soil.

Both Richie and Mr. Schenk warn that you should only collect moss from your own property, it stands the best chance of living (besides, you already own it!). However, since I don't have the moss riches to do that, I'll just be careful to water it well and hope for the best. If it dies at least it held things together for awhile.

Here's where I gush.

Because I am really pleased with how it turned out.

Of course I still plan to attend the class at Joy Creek in July.

I need to learn all about what I did wrong, so I can do it right next time!

Until then, I'll just be over here admiring it...and that's why it's my month-end favorite. What's your favorite in your garden this month?

Weather Diary, May 25: Hi 75, Low 49/ Precip 0"

All material © 2009-2017 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

48 comments:

  1. This is impressive! Good job. Now that you got it out of your system, you could attend the class in July and build your next fern table.
    Reading through the post I wondered how you felt about Thalictrum ichangense blooms and was worried you'd chop the off... I'm glad to see them intact :-) they are so sweet.

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    1. Thanks! Ya, those flowers would seem to be right up there with the Saxifraga flowers (which did get cut off), but for some reason I like these.

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  2. Now that's the way to get your garden juju back after a long, hard winter! The Blechnum is particularly choice, although I'm intrigued by that Arthropodium too. I love ferns and used a lot of them in my former shady garden but I've found the wind and drier conditions here shorten their lives dramatically.

    Here are my favorites this month, as we slip into summer: https://krispgarden.blogspot.com/2017/05/may-favorites-2017.html
    Best wishes for a wonderful holiday weekend!

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    1. Thanks Kris, and I look forward to reading your favorites post.

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  3. You did a marvelous job and your fern table looks great! Alison and I had the pleasure of attending a similar class by Richie at DIG a year or two ago. Love the tables and hope to someday make one of my own!

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    1. Alison had mentioned the class when she was down for the LPO shopping trip. Leave it to Sylvia and Dig to be way out ahead of the trend.

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  4. OMG i love it!!!!! I might have to make something similar! sorry in advance for copying your creative genius!

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    1. But I copied what I'd seen done before...so I can hardy claim ownership. Copy away!

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  5. Well isn't that just the coolest thing!

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    1. It is very cool in that shady corner! ;)

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  6. You've done a fantastic job. It's wonderful. Love the plant choices. Never heard of the Anthropodium. Definitely a centerpiece plant. Did you have to soak the drift wood in water for a while to get the salt out?

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    1. Thanks! Maybe I should have (soaked)...but they were very dry after winter in the garage and then laying in the sun for a couple of days. Anything that was attached had fallen off. Now you've got me wondering!

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  7. That turned out very nice, you deserve to be proud. I love how one of your pieces of driftwood kind of resembles a bone. I need to get that book too. If memory serves, Richie often uses fishing line to hold his fern tables together in the beginning, at least until all the roots knit together. I don't know if I hold with the rule about not mixing rocks and wood either, I intend to use both. I think you'll enjoy Richie's class.

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    1. Thanks Alison! I thought I could make out fishing line, or wire, in one of the photos I took that explains why.

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  8. You should admire it as it looks great. You will have to take more how-to pix at the class. I have both books so I am going to take a look at them. I copied a couple of the photos you had previously posted as I'd really like to try this. So thanks for this tutorial.

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    1. Oh I hope do try it, your garden seems like a perfect location for one, or two, or...

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  9. It turned out beautifully, Loree! I think it was good that you made your own way first, your own creativity expressed, as opposed to being influenced too much by someone else's vision and rules. The workshop will only add to the experience.

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    1. Thanks Eliza, I hadn't thought of it like that, probably true!

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  10. Athyrium filix-femina 'Limelight Lady' is new to me, so thanks for showing me that. I love george schenk's books. Thanks for a great reason to go to the beach. Your table is perfect.

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    1. Perfect is high praise! I guess I should see what other books Mr. Schenk has written.

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  11. Ingenious device for absorbing lots and lots of cool plants that will love those conditions. Well done you!

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  12. That is very cool. You are so good at arranging. In my climate its too dry to have ferns anywhere but the ground, where they might survive a summer. I suppose the appropriate table scape here would be succulents.

    I managed a favorite this month!
    http://pieceofeden.blogspot.com/2017/05/favorite-plant-of-month-may-2017.html

    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Reading your comment I got a picture in my head of a business card that says simply "arranger"...perhaps my calling! And yes, a succulent table would be fabulous...

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  13. A nice tutorial with a beautiful end product. Unfortunately this is not for me as such plants would be screaming after 5 minutes in the Texas heat. So are you hoping for mist and rain now?

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    1. Never! We get plenty of mist and rain, I am always hoping for sunny days. A hose will do the job just fine.

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  14. Customers are always smitten with the fern tables so we expect a good turnout for the class. I'm sure you will pick up a tip or two but you got the aesthetics right, that's for sure!

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    1. I guess that means I'd better get on registering for it eh?

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  15. Ooops! Forgot to leave a link to my faves: http://bannersbyricki.com/archives/5822

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  16. That's wonderful, Loree! Ferns and mosses are my favorite plants, and I always admired Joy Creek's fern tables.

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    1. Have you seen the ones at Swanson's?

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  17. I think it was 2 or 3 years ago when you told me that ferns were going to become the 'hot' plant in coming years. Well, in my book, fern tables will make that happen! I'm definitely in lust for this concept, I can even smell the woody goodness just looking at the photos!

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    1. Thanks for the great memory and your excitement. I recently got push-back from someone who thought I was talking crazy talk. They went on to tell me (on FB) how wrong I was. I dunno...I still believe.

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  18. I love it! Wish I could go to the class. I am a total fern freak! And lately the main grower I buy from has been bringing in all kinds of ferns (I mean to do a blog about them). I have been planting them under my Podocarpus Japanese Yew hedge on the north side of my house. I have the Plant Lover's Guide to Ferns. You might like the book A Victorian Obsession, The Story of Pteridomania Fern -Fever by Sarah Whittingham.

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    1. I wish you could go to the class too, it would be fun to have you there. I'll look into the book recommendation, thank you!

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  19. Just perfect. The foliage on the Thalictrum is divine.

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    1. I agree. I've loved and lost two of the Thalictrum previously. I'm hoping this one makes it!

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  20. I can't see anything you did "wrong". It looks great! Best use of that Arthropodium I've seen. I think it gets kind of lost if it's planted in a regular garden bed. My favorites list is rather nondiscriminatory this month. There's just too much going on! http://practicalplantgeek.blogspot.com/2017/05/may-favorites.html

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    1. Thanks. I do have some other Arthropodium tucked in with the dwarf green mondo grass but the gate. It adds the contrast my eye needs, but still isn't completely upset if Lila decides to lie on it.

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  21. This is the first I have heard of a fern table. You really should be please by how yours looks. That 'Limelight Lady' is one of the most appealing Lady Fern varieties I have ever seen.

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    1. Thanks Jason...you could be the start of the fern table movement in Chicago! Do it!

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  22. Love it!! Like a little slice of the woodland placed on centre stage!

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    1. Thanks guys...I tried to err on the side of not making it too precious. I fear ending up there...

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  23. Your table looks great! I am looking forward to coming down to Joy Creek and doing the class again. Hope you will come by! Also, don't worry if your moss does not make it. I have found that dead moss is the perfect medium for new moss spores to grow in. Thanks for sharing.....

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    1. I do hope to be there...and good to know about the moss!

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