Back in April, I committed to two garden projects this season. I was enthusiastic at the time, as one often is when projects are simply ideas in your head.
Of course, the first project seemed like more fun: replace the long-in-the-tooth garden swing with a new glider. Done!
The second project involved repairing or replacing the top of my garden bench.
I started in the lumber aisle of our local big-box store, pretending that I wasn’t entirely out of my league. I looked at planks of wood and pre-cut surfaces but nothing seemed quite right. Further, the cost and availability of lumbar has been challenging due to COVID-related supply chain issues. Ok, so that’s another excuse for feeling overwhelmed by it all. I mean how expensive can it be to buy a small section of wood?
The existing garden bench boards are warped, but removing them further jeopardizes the sturdiness of the entire unit. I would need to replace the boards or attach something on top of them, followed by more sanding and paint. Neither of those projects worked out well the last time, so my reluctance is rooted in that experience.
In the end, I went in a completely different direction, and I’m pleased with the results. I ordered a plexiglass top from a local place called Tap Plastic. The acrylic is available in a variety of thicknesses, depending on need. I ordered a product called “green glass,” which mimics the real deal for a fraction of the cost. They created this custom-made acrylic top for less than a hundred dollars.
I made a pattern to include the surface and the small recessed area at the back. The new plexiglass top slides into the notched area, helping keep it in place.
You can see the rounded corners and the notched extension in the above photo.
I can change the look by swapping out table runners or placemats. The surface wipes clean with a damp cloth which is another plus over the wood surface. I hope it lasts for years.
This striped cloth draped on the bench is a gift from my friend Rosie. She brought it home with her from a trip to Africa a few years ago. I searched for the proper term but gave up. I found many sources and suggestions, including Mud cloth, Kente cloth, Kantha cloth, and simply “head tie.” I don’t want to attribute it to something it’s not. The fabric is soft and vibrant with a lovely drape.
The gorgeous birdhouse is hand-crafted by my friend, Laura. She started her own business a few years ago, making one-of-a-kind ceramic birdhouses in Paradise, California. I don’t have the heart to hang it on a branch for fear of breaking it in a strong wind, so I have it on the bench instead. Both gifts are lovely reminders of dear friends.
The rest of the garden is doing okay, though some plants are showing stress from reduced watering and heat. Only one of the three tomato plants produced decent fruit. The other two plants are stunted, even though we planted them in rich soil. So it goes with gardening.
That said, I count myself lucky to have many established native plants. They thrive in this climate and won’t bothered by a lack of water.
Meanwhile, I’m dreaming of rain.