Ta-da! The Planted Fern Bench

The Planted Fern Bench
The Planted Fern Bench

The fern bench is fully planted and enjoying some fall rain to get it off to a good start. There will be some plant changes around the bench, as well, as the ‘Autumn Dig’ begins in earnest. Planted in the bench are the following plants: Blechnum penna-marina, Cyclamen coum, Dryopteris affinis ‘Crispa Gracilis’, Mukdenia rossii – variegated form, Asplenium trichomapes, Hosta ‘Eco Salad Bowl’, Epimedium leptorrhizum, Selaginella kraussiana ‘Gold Tips’, Hosta ‘Chickadee’, and Adiantum pedatum.

Many of the plants will spill over the sides of the bench in time. My intention is that they will cover the edges of the soil-filled box. Next spring I’ll take photos of it when it leafs out once again. I may have to put a temporary cover over it that will shed snow if we get as much as we did last year. I do have concerns about how much weight the bench can hold, which is why we are no longer sitting on it in the first place.

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BurnOut is a Bust

Burnout fertizes the buttercup weed
Burnout fertizes the buttercup weed

After spending nearly $100 in BurnOut to kill 800 s.f. of lawn, I have to report that it is a bust. I have new grass growing in, but worse, is that it did not kill the Buttercup weed (which it touts it will kill). I’ll have to check to see if it has killed all of the viola. So it appears that if I cannot find the 20% vinegar solution that I may have to resort to something like RoundUp combined with CrossBow (what is recommended by our county agent to get rid of non-natives). Ick. I hate using chemicals in my garden. The only way I can justify this is that I have tried the best alternatives and only plan to do it once.

To be clear about how I used the BurnOut, let me state that my first purchase of about $40, was for a gallon of the stuff premixed and ready to spray. I sprayed on an afternoon that was about 80°. The directions say to keep the area dry for at least several hours, which I did. Early the next morning, my sprinklers went on for about 10 minutes. I allowed this because it was going to be another warm day and the lawn sprinklers also water the surrounding plant borders. After at least 5 days of warm weather, it was clear I needed to spray again. When I returned to Portland Nursery to get more, they told me that it is normal to have to reapply organic weedkillers to be effective. This time I purchased the concentrated formula that I would need to mix myself. It was almost $60 for this. The suggested mix ratio is 1 part BurnOut to 2 parts water for the greatest effectiveness. I mixed 3 batches to this ratio and sprayed 2 of the batches on the worst areas of the lawn. The rest I used in some gravel path areas that had weeds. What you see in the photo is after 3 days of warm weather and one day of cool weather resulting in rain. The irrigation system was turned off before the latest round.

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Fern Bench Progress

 With the help of my son and his friend, a new box for plants is now part of the bench. After trimming the coir to fit snugly into place, I’m ready to plant ferns! Some details of the process:

Acloseup of a corner.
Acloseup of a corner.
The fern bench in its new home.
The fern bench in its new home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the ferns lined out on the bench, I'm ready to plant.
With the ferns lined out on the bench, I’m ready to plant.

 

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Garden lights up my life

Recently, I asked one of our local lighting experts to install some ‘temporary’ lighting into my garden for an annual APLD Oregon member dinner in the garden. It was intended to be part ambiance and part learning experience for members. It’s been so lovely (Thank you Tom Glazener with Ewing Irrigation) that I’ve worked it out so I can keep the lighting, with minor modifications for budget purposes.

A red filter helps emphasize coral bark maple.
A red filter helps emphasize coral bark maple.

One of the more interesting effects was to add a red filter onto the lamp that lights my mature coral bark Japanese maple. Older bark of this tree loses its beautiful coral color. It’s the new twigs that still have color. Yet, there is just a hint left to the extent that when it is lit using the red filter, it virtually glows at night. Garden lighting has lit up my life – at night. It makes my garden feel like fairies are dancing out there under the stars. Now I enjoy hunting for my wayward cats hiding in the bushes at sunset.

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An Old Bench is New Again

Getting started with the fern bench
Getting started with the fern bench

Let’s face it. Garden benches wear out over time when exposed to the elements. I have a lovely twig bench that I just can’t bear to turn into firewood. But I can’t sit on any more and neither can anyone else. So I decided to turn the seat portion into a sort of flat moss basket and grow little baby ferns, hostas, and some other interesting teensy plants on it. While talking to my friend, Lucy Hardiman, she said she had helped another friend make a ‘fern table’. So I investigated to learn more about this topic. Seems the term ‘fern table’ was born in 2002 via Sunset Magazine.

I’ve purchased some cedar to create a little box on the top of the seat to hold soil in place. I’ve also purchased enough of that basket fiber to cover the seat and keep the soil from going out the bottom. Now I need the time to start assembling this little masterpiece. More soon on the construction and the plants.

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It’s fall – time for garden changes

Cooler nights and crisp morning air is signaling changes to my garden. But I’ve been keeping a list all summer of things I want to change as soon as this 90° weather stops. Yesterday began the change from unmowed lawn with more buttercup and violas in it than grass. Michael never has time to mow it.

Yesterday I purchased and sprayed the lawn with an organic product called BurnOut. It has some interesting ingredients in it that cause lawn to die faster than I’ve ever seen RoundUp do. Clove oil, for one. It leaves a scent of cloves behind, which is much nicer than the usual synthetic chemical smell. Once the plants are all dead, I will rake out as much of the dead stuff as possible, fill in the low spots, seed in some ‘Fleur de Lawn’, and top-dress with compost. The seed is a mix of low-growing flowering plants and short perennial rye grass. It may need mowing once a month and needs very little water. Doesn’t this sound like a much more sustainable option than a standard lawn?

The lawn is dying ever so slowly. Grasses are tough plants!
The lawn is dying ever so slowly. Grasses are tough plants!

I have a client who has seeded it over the back of his very steep property, too. It is touted as a good erosion-control groundcover. Another plus. As seed begins to come up, I’ll post another photo. In the meantime, see the dying grass that I sprayed 25 hours ago.

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