If you don’t happen to have an authentic gold pan and matching plinth lying around the place, don’t despair – you can still make one of these eye-catching living artworks.
I have my eye on an about-to-be-defunct bird bath that lives right at the bottom of the garden.
If you have such a thing, consider re-homing it closer to the house and planting the bowl. You can always reconstitute it as a bird bath in spring.
For a permanent solution, check out your local garden centre for a shallow terracotta basin and a terracotta plinth. If there’s no matching plinth, grab a planter the right size, shape and colour, upend it and use that as your base.
But what should you plant? Cyclamen is my go-to choice in winter. The foliage is as pretty as the flowers, and it’s not bothered by being ignored. Choose a low-growing grey-green or dark green Mondo to keep it company, then add a tall ornament.
Ajuga is a low-spreading plant with rounded, dark bronze or purple leaves. You could team it with a miniature flax in similar tones and use a copper ornament with a nice patina of verdigris for a designer look.
Box is a good choice for foliage because it’ll grow in a small container and will survive very well with a minor amount of food and water. It’ll go with just about anything, so mix and match other plants to your heart’s content.
Live plants can always be a bit of a risk, so mixing living foliage with artificial flowers and berries will ensure your sculpture looks good even if something turns up its toes. And remember, you can always add and subtract for extra impact. If you don’t want to spend money on ornaments, get creative with dead eucalyptus twigs tied together and pushed into the soil, dried seed pods (palms have very decorative ones) or pieces of pumice threaded onto wire.
Having examined the items used in the gold pan, I’m wondering what sort of creative job I could do with corn cobs. Uneaten, of course.