While driving around in the rain a few months ago, I spotted this old fireplace mantle. It was leaning behind a dumpster with a ton of junk piled on top of it.
The dumpster was located behind a furniture staging company, but this neglected mantle had clearly been here a long, long time.
I called the company and left a message (in my nicest voice possible) and lo and behold they called me back the next day! They said if I could haul it away, I could have it!
Score! Dumpster diving at its best!
Once I got it home (no easy feat as we had to tie it to the top of my SUV) I knew right where I’d put it.
In the very back of my garden, right outside of my office, there is a shady area with a mish-mash of plants and a ho-hum fence.
The perfect spot for a focal point wall!
First step was to securely attach it to the fence so it wouldn’t tip over in a storm.
Then came the fun part – sprucing it up while figuring out which plants to keep and which to move.
This space has always been difficult to plant as anything planted has to compete with the neighboring tree’s giant roots.
With a little help from my hot glue gun, some of the shells from my ever-growing shell collection were finally put to good use!
And the fact that these shells hold endearing memories from past vacations makes it all that more special.
I knew I wanted pots of trailing plants on top of the mantle, but was worried about water rotting this already weathered piece of wood.
The solution was pretty simple.
After placing the pots ‘just so’ we drilled large drainage holes along the top so the pots could nestle down in them, and the water could freely drain through to the ground.
And, because the pots are sunk down in the holes, they’re less likely to be tipped over by wandering raccoons.
When I first put this up in March, we were hit with an unexpectedly wicked storm, which blew everything off the top of my mantle.
Even the very heavy head!
My beloved head broke into a dozen pieces, but my husband painstakingly glued them back together, using cement and chicken wire to fill in where needed, and to provide additional support.
It’s great to be married to such a handy guy!!
We also secured the head to the fence with a black chain, and attached a piece of inexpensive jewelry to give him a little more ‘flair’.
The plants were a little trickier to figure out.
I wanted something to represent the flames of a fire, but whatever I chose had to survive in total shade.
Sansaveria can be a little ‘iffy’ in our area, but I’m hoping it survives the winter since it’s in a fairly protected spot. I love how they have the perfect ‘flame’ shape!
I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking when I planted the little begonias and mondo grass – but I like how they seem to flow out from the flames.
I also planted a Japanese Maple (acer ‘Firepower’) next to the mantle, hoping the fall colors would look like ‘glowing embers.’
I just love it!
Overall, it’s mission accomplished!
I love how the arched arbor frames the fireplace – sort of a ‘focal point within a focal point’!
And thanks to the glow of the Japanese Maple, it’s the perfect way to entice guests to keep on exploring the garden.