Wednesday Vignette – garden progress

Anyone who has visited my garden has usually had to do a lot of imagining, as I try to explain what this and that is for, and what I intend to do with it. And, meanwhile, more ideas and half-baked projects pile up. And, of course, there is always something that you didn’t expect, that malfunctions and has to be redone – like the carefully hung LED lights that were zip-tied to pre-installed wires, per the instructions. Now, hanging lights in anything as… verdant, (polite for desperately overgrown) is always a pain. When the lights stop working, you have to get back on the ladder again. Thankfully, I got my money back on the first set of lights, as Costco said they should have lasted a lot longer than the scant year I got out of them, but still… Redoing it was yet another project in and of itself.

Any-ho-ha – since I’m currently playing the waiting game on two sizable garden proposals, I started working on my own mess, for a change. It was quite cathartic, I have to say. It felt incredibly nice to check one big thing after another off my ever-growing list.

First, I got myself a shelf to gather homeless, hoarded treasures on, while I figured out where they should go. A year ago, my friend Hollye gave me a 38″ diameter concave metal disc, which was actually the lid for a large grill. I thought it would be perfect for another fern table, so for the past year, I had collected nifty shade plants  in anticipation of this Table of all tables. And of course, over time, they had all needed to be potted up a size or two. Trust me when I say I could barely walk out there, let alone move ladders. So, the fern table had to come first. It would perch perfectly atop this curved wall that pretty much mimicked its shape., located in the corner where the big, rotting lilac used to be. I had saved part of the contorted, decomposing lilac trunk, and used it to stabilize the disc, and to hide the pavers I used to level it. In the end, the trunk pretty much became an extension of the fern table itself. A big stump that I’d found off the side of the road became the center chunk of wood for the large table.

38" metal disc fern table

Here is the front of the fern table, underneath a Fatsia. You might be able to see part of the edge of the disc (right below the variegated Hosta on the right), as it rests on the old lilac trunk, atop the stacked wall.

Fern table - detail

Although this is just one side of the table, I fit a smattering of good plants in there – Adiantum tricomanes, a little Anemonella, Pleone (or Peacock Orchid – to go with the Peacock chair, of course), Pinellia cordata, hostas, heucheras, saxifragas, a battered little Acorus gramineus nana (the one in the photo must have gotten dried out at some point – hope it recovers), and Anthyrium ‘Dre’s Dagger’ fern. It’s been a few days, and a few can already be seen stretching their legs (especially the Pinellia).

See where I’m going with this? All this big, bulky stuff that had been taking up ungodly amounts of space in my little yard for so long, were finally being assembled per my fragmented vision, and put to its intended use. I discovered when making my first 2′ x 2′ table garden that you can fit about 20-25 4″ plants in each. Granted, the center stump was huge, but you get the idea – this big disc can easily accommodate that – even if, by now, several are in quarts and gallon sized pots. As I write this, although I’ve only finished the front half of this fern table, it has already made a noticeable dent in my plant stash. It feels great to have gotten this far!

After clearing all this space, it was time to re-hang the lights. Since the string lights had to span rather long distances, I got 10′ conduit, which I spray painted espresso brown, to  anchor the reinstalled wires that were to criss-cross the backyard, to. The first time I’d hung the lights, they were sagging too far down, and people taller than me (meaning most everyone) would have to duck, so it needed to be redone, and done better. Also, those tall conduit posts would be able to poke through the verdant ceiling covering my garden, so they would be perfect for attaching the solar panels charging my spot lights. It took me a while, but I’m finally happy with it. Best of all, now I can work after dark! The pile of flagstones that I’d been tripping over since Christmas, finally got laid into position around midnight last night. Still have to set and level them in 1/4 minus, though…


After the lights were installed, and everything had such a festive look to it, I rigged up a spot in the shade under the Black Lace Elderberry for the awesome, groovy, but very, very brittle 70’s rattan peacock chair a former neighbor left behind when they moved. You can’t sit in it, but it makes a great statement in my jungly garden. To top it off, I hung a contemporary capiz shell chandelier just above it, that glows with the help of the new lights. Welcome to the tropics, folks! Since it was Mother’s Day and my husband was traveling, the kids took care of the catering, while I indulged myself with my projects. My 16-year old jazz aficionado who has fabulous taste in music, humored me by spending an hour with me out there, DJ-ing 60’s dance music for me while I battled obstructive greenery from my ladder. The part behind the massive adjacent fern table is still a tangle of ivy, lilac suckers and the occasional blackberry, but let’s just focus on the positive, shall we? I’ll get to it one of these days/months/years. Visiting my garden will still require some imagination, but the outlines got much clearer with this weekend’s progress. Crank up the music, celebrate, and pour me a Tequila Sunrise – LET’S PARTY!


About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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26 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – garden progress

  1. bergstromskan says:

    Fantastic Anna, I wish I was there to share a Tequila Sunrise with you, and Party with you and all your friends-and your sons

  2. Splendid, Anna. You know it is our kind of garden

  3. Brennie lee says:

    It looks fabulous – very lush and tropical

    • annamadeit says:

      Thank you, Brennie! And thanks for reading and commenting. I’ve never visited a real jungle, but I’m well on my way of making my own… LOL!

  4. linda says:

    I’ll have to come and visit soon ! Remind me not to sit on the chair !

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh yes, you need to! And yes – sitting on that chair would be a rude awakening, and perhaps even painful so – tempting as it might be – I’ll remind you. 🙂

  5. Congrats! Progress in ones own garden is a wonderful thing.

  6. fernhaven says:

    So when is the party? I’ll bring beverages! Maybe you could shore up the peacock chair somehow overtly with a solid chair that can be sat in…? Loving the mega-fern table! I just made a hybrid container/fern table out of an old broken pot & root wood. Put that precious Paris luquanensis we got in it along with other small shade treasures. Turned out pretty nice! 🙂

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh I bet it does! Please post pictures! I haven’t planted my Paris yet. It has a prominent spot on my Hoarder Shelf. As for the party – let me finish a few other areas first, and then I’ll set a date. 🙂

  7. Kris P says:

    Congratulations! It’s got to be tough to work in landscaping but rarely have the opportunity to work on your own space. I love the fern tables your and the other PNWers create – the closest to that I can get is succulents glued onto driftwood.

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks! I actually made a sunny table garden too. It has a mini juniper, some eryngium, succulents, some mini spring bulbs, and poppies, plus some other small sun-loving things that needed to get up into the sunnier zone. So far, it’s all looking good, and filling in nicely. Quite a different look than a fern table, but I like the idea of sunny table gardens too. 🙂

  8. Grace says:

    I love the clickety sound of capiz shells as they dance in the breeze. Your garden looks like an escape and that’s just what we need. I wish I had a huge stump like yours. How cool! Sounds like a perfect Mother’s Day!

    • annamadeit says:

      It really was a perfect day! My garden is still a work in progress, but the past weekend made a huge difference. Everything I got done where hurdles preventing other things from getting done, so having them out of the way will make everything else easier. It feels like I just broke through a massive barrier – hooray!
      We just had quite a bit of wind come through, and I heard quite the capiz concierto – the frazzling of all those little translucent discs. I like it!

  9. Pingback: Wednesday Vignette: As Luminous, As Light – A Moveable Garden

  10. Alison says:

    It’s great to get these chores done. Visitors to my garden have to do a lot imagining, which is why I never invite anyone over. I’ll have people over when it’s done. Of course, you know, it’s never done, which is a good thing, since I’m such an introvert.

    • annamadeit says:

      Mine will never be done either, I have a feeling. But after this weekend, I can at least move around without tripping over everything – LOL! It’s not quite on the level where I can host guests – not yet anyway. But with functioning lights, I have no excuse. I should be out there working now!

  11. Kudos on making some major progress on your garden vision. That chandelier has a wonderful presence!

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks, Jason! Hope to get some more done tomorrow. This morning, I heard a crash in the chandelier. It was a squirrel using it as a stepping stone! I bet the sound scared it, so hopefully they’ll learn that it isn’t the most solid thing to jump on – lol!

  12. tonytomeo says:

    Oh, my; It looks like something Brent Green (of GreenArt) designed. Too much.
    Does your ‘Black Lace’ elderberry produce good fruit?

    • annamadeit says:

      Ha! Keep in mind that my garden isn’t “designed” so much as it is a testing lab. And yes, you are right – there are way too many plants crammed into it. But, what’s a girl to do? I have to try things out somewhere, so I know what they do before I put them in someone else’s garden.
      My Elderberry is an edible variety, but I haven’t yet done anything with them. Each year, I tell myself this is the year I’m going to make Elderflower pancakes, but I have yet to fulfill that intention. Maybe this year? It’s not quite blooming yet, so there is still time.

      • tonytomeo says:

        That is actually what Brent does with his garden at home. It is not like those of his clients’. He trials new plants there, and even artificial turf (which is a bit odd for such a renowned landscape designer).
        When I started using the native blue elderberries, no one else was using them. I could find no information about them, so started using them like normal black elderberries. I won second place at the Jelly Competition of the Santa Cruz Mountains Harvest Festival for the past several years. (There is a good reason why I did not win first place.) Anyway, I read in catalogues that ‘Black Lace’ produces good fruit, but I have not seen it yet. Ours barely makes a few wimpy berries that birds get first.

  13. annamadeit says:

    Jelly, huh… that sounds intriguing. I’ve enjoyed Elderberry syrup in the past, but I don’t think I have ever tried jelly made from it. I bet it would make a great glaze on a summery cake!

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