Garden Lore

“We saw the palaces and garden of Versailles… full of statues, vases, fountains, and colonnades. In all that belongs essentially to a garden they are extraordinarily deficient.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Journal, September 3, 1816

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Hypertufa basin

A wash basin of some description is very handy in the garden, but old porcelain or stainless steel usually looks out of place. I spotted this hypertufa basin in a Hawera garden recently. I assume this was commercially made because it had a Tomo Potz label still attached but, for DIY enthusiasts, it is not too difficult to make one. Hypertufa was all the rage a decade or more ago. It gives the weathered look of stone without the weight.

The internet has an abundance of recipes and step by step instructions. Martha Stewart made it popular in USA and the common American recipe is 3 parts peat moss to 3 parts perlite or vermiculite (used in hydroponics) to 2 parts cement (not the instant, ready-mix convenience bags). This is a 3:3:2 ratio. I found a New Zealand recipe which was 2 parts peat, 1 part river sand (not fine beach sand) to 1 part cement making a 2:1: 1 ratio. Essentially it comes back to 1 part of cement to 3 parts of gritty but light bulk. You need a mould which is where an old basin would come in handy. Just make sure you have your plug fitting to hand when you are making the basin so you get the drainage hole the right size from the start.

Hypertufa is used for natural looking troughs or pots. Why, I even have a couple myself, though I admit they were a gift. They are much easier to handle than the heavy, old concrete pots I inherited.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

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