At Joy Creek Nursery, we have these wonderful fern tables sitting around. They are the result of several years of fern table workshops that are taught by Richie Steffen of the Elizabeth Miller Botanical Garden . These fern tables are built on 4 sf concrete pavers, and always attract attention from visitors. They are for sale, but to my knowledge, we haven’t sold one yet, as they weigh something like 250 lbs. These things are HEAVY! So, even if they were to sell, the logistics of loading, transport, and unloading complicate things. And yet, everybody wants one.
I took Richie Steffen’s workshop two years ago (wrote about it here). By now, I have four fern tables in my shady garden, but I have also used what I learned to make elevated table gardens for sun. I have so little of it, that I figured if I raise these miniature gardens on some kind of pedestal (usually plain old concrete blocks), the plants will get more sun than if they were at ground level. The difference is probably not great, but there is definitely a difference, and so far, my theory has proven successful, and I’ve been able to keep things alive that I’m pretty sure would have suffocated had they had to fend for themselves down below. And, more plants is always better… right?
So, where am I going with this? Nowhere, except to say that I had a super fun day today. In anticipation of the upcoming table garden workshop this weekend, I was asked to make a handful of miniature table gardens of a size that an average person WOULD be able to lift. Of course, most people that attend that workshop will want to make their very own table garden at home, but these little transportable ones would satisfy those who come in any other time, and admire our big ones.
I set out to make five. The base is a 1 sf concrete paver, available from any box store. The process is the same as with the larger pavers, except your surface area is 75% less. After scouring the compost heaps for appealing logs, branches, etc., I swept through the retail tables, collecting suitable candidates. Lemme tell you – there are plenty of awesome small-ish plants to choose from! I had a whole cart full, and then I hadn’t even stuck my head in the shade section!
The same ratio that applies to the surface, applies to the number of plants. Since one can squeeze 20-25 plants into a 4 sf table, it was no surprise to realize that I could fit 5-6 plants into a square foot. Which, of course, is why table gardens have SUCH an attraction to a cramscaper. With the riches of Joy Creek at my disposal, you can imagine that I was blissfully engaged for hours – I had so much fun! I will post photos of these mini-worlds later. For this week’s Vignette, I offer you a couple of detail shots of one of my favorite plants living in my sunny 2′ x 2′ table at home; Papaver miyabeanum – a treasure found at local favorites Xera.
As poppies go, the flowers don’t last very long. I hope the same for the tables I made today. If everything was right in the world, they would find their new homes without much delay. Because, who in their right mind would opt for a hanging basket, when they could have a micro table garden???