Wednesday, August 24, 2011


It is a wonderful thing to watch birds bathing and playing in water features around the garden.  During hot summer days providing available water for birds in your garden is a lifesaver.  I am amazed at how frequently they make use of anything containing water. Place it near a window so you can easily watch how much they will enjoy your gift of water.  You can make your own simple cast leaf water basin for the birds in your garden. We will also have them for sale at our upcoming Holiday Retail Event in November and December.

Here’s what you’ll need:

-a scrap of heavy plastic
-8- to 10 cups damp sand
-1 large , heavily veined leaf.  Squash and rhubarb are perfect for        
  this. Whatever leaf you use, make sure it is at least 12 –14 inches 
-4, one-inch long screws
-1 bag Quick Crete sand mix  concrete
-plastic mixing pail and trowel
-wire or treated cord for hanging
-exterior latex paint

Here’s what you do:

  1. Spread the plastic over your working surface and mound the damp sand into a pile with a high point in the center.

  1. Lay the large leaf over the sand with the heavily-veined backside facing up. Smooth the leaf on the sand so it is spread out to it’s full size and is humped as an over-turned bowl. 

  1. Carefully open the bag of sand mix . I like to stand the bag up on one end.  In this way, I open the top end and remove only what I will use for this project, saving the rest for later.  Measure about 8 cups of the sand mix into your mixing pail.  Add small amounts of water and mix with the trowel until you have a nice thick concrete mixture that is similar to clay.  Remember: add water slowly and in small amounts.  You cannot proceed with runny concrete.

  1. “Frost” the leaf with the thick concrete mix to a thickness of 3/4” to 1”.  Bring the concrete up to 1/8” of the leaf edge but do not surpass the leaf. .Use the trowel to smooth the mixture so it looks like an overturned bowl because that is exactly what it will become! 

  1. Stick a screw  3/4 of and inch into the edge of the cast leaf at four points equi-distant from one another. These will serve as the attachments for hanging the water bowl.

  1. Clean up your tools with plenty of water using the hose in the garden.  Never use your sink for this purpose.

  1. Allow your project to set overnight.  The next day it will be hard enough for you to clean up and finish the project.

  1. Carefully lift your cast leaf from the mound of sand.  Sometimes the real leaf will peel right off but most of the time it likes to stick to the concrete for a couple of days.  By then it will have turned brown and flake right off.  Clean loose material and sand from the edges with a paint brush or small broom.  Allow the cleaned leaf bowl to cure for two days.  During this time it will gain strength to withstand the final step.

  1. If you want to paint your leaf dish, use exterior latex paint at this point and allow to dry. Attach a length of wire or treated cord to each of the four screws and bring together into a knot for hanging.   Place in an appropriate location, fill it with water and start watching the birds!  

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