Gather your supplies
- Recycled hardwood sleepers (2)
- Recycled bricks
- Bricktor reinforcing mesh
- Plants, including groundcovers and epiphytes, such as baby’s tears, pratia, bromeliad and tillandsia
You'll also need
- Round-end shovel
- Spirit level
- Quick-set concrete
- Bagged crusher dust
- Set out paint
- Brickie’s sand
- General-purpose cement
- Spade bit
- Clear silicone
- Caulking gun
Clear the garden bed of any weeds or debris.
Using shovel, dig hole for the first sleeper 400mm deep. Dig second hole 350mm away, and 300mm deeper.
Sit sleepers in holes and use spirit level to make plumb. Set in position with quick-set concrete.
Put down crusher dust around sleepers and roughly level to create a bed 40mm thick.
Lay bricks around sleepers in an aesthetic way, leaving random gaps for groundcover plants.
Use set out paint to mark a straight line for garden bed edging and dig a narrow, shallow trench along this line.
Blend sand and cement in wheelbarrow in a ratio of 4:1. Add water and mix to make a reasonably stiff mortar. Use trowel to
lay a bit of mortar in trench, then push in mesh, and add more mortar. Lay bricks in mortar so they’re level, following edging line.
Drill holes in side of sleepers at downward angle with spade bit.
Move bromeliads from pots to holes, using some of their potting mix.
Apply silicone to tillandsia roots and attach to crevices in sleepers.
Fill gaps in bricks around sleepers with soil you’ve already dug up and plant groundcovers like pratia and baby’s tears.
Put in plants around sleeper sculptures and in the garden bed, such as walking iris, Blechnum ‘Silver Lady’, bird’s nest fern, philodendron and homalomena.
Water plants in the ground and on sleepers.
Colour for a shady area
Ferns love a shady spot but don’t offer much in the way of colour. Bromeliads are vibrant shade-lovers, but the walking iris is a dazzler. It gets its name from the fact that over the years it will ‘walk’ across your garden. When it produces its brilliantly hued, iris-like flowers on long stems, the weight of the flower bends the stem to the ground and plantlets at the tip of the flower stalk take root. It can also self-seed, giving the impression it is ‘walking’ across your garden.
Offset your sleeper pillars so they are distant from your fence. You immediately add volume and air, which allows your vegetation to breathe. Over time, bromeliads will produce pups and the irises will spread, with both creating a lushness you can partly control by planting pups elsewhere – or you can leave them exactly where they are...