I attended the Yard, Garden and Patio show in February and was intrigued by Richie Steffen, curator for the Elisabeth C Miller Botanical Garden who demonstrated how to build a fern table. Taking copius notes, between March and April I collected all the necessary elements and set out to create my own version of the fern table on the shady side of the house.
I secured a 12×12 concrete block from Lowe’s along with four cement blocks and one bar of rebar cut into four equal sections. Siting the perfect location, I placed the concrete blocks on top of one another. My husband pounded the rebar inside each of the four corners to provide the base stability.
I created two moss covered burlap ‘logs’ by rolling blended compost and potting soil into loose garden burlap and tied them up with clear fishing line. I found the most wonderful sheet moss at The Garden Corner in Tualatin and encased the log with the moss, again securing it with fishing line and soaking both with water. I placed them around the outside perimeter of the 12×12 pad, filling the interior with soil. Next, I added three found moss and lichen covered tree branches from recent hikes. I tucked in 4″ plant material to fill out the soil bed area.
The 4″ plant material used included:
– Anthyrium filix-femina ‘Lady Fern’
– Athyrium nipponicum ‘Red Beauty’ (Japanese painted fern)
– Dryopteris erthyrosora ‘Autumn Fern’
– Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’
– Saxifraga stolonifera ‘Maroon Beauty’
– Saxifraga umibrosa ‘Variegata’
Not including procurement of materials, it was relatively easy to assemble and took about 1.5 hours total with finessing.
During summer months, treat the fern table like a fuschia basket – watering every 1-3 days as the soil media can dry out quickly during warm days. During Febrayr/March of the first year cut back all the fern fronds to initiate new growth.
If you are looking for something different to add as a vertical element in your garden, consider a Fern Table. To see the demonstration fern table created at the YGP show, visit Garden Fever in NE Portland.