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Herb Garden Graveyard

tombstone herb garden plant marker

Forget the traditional parterre Herb Garden, if you can’t keep herbs alive! Goths, ghouls, and any gardeners with a sense of humour about their plant-growing failures will enjoy a decorative Herb Graveyard instead.

Penfold Merton, “UK-grown tinkerer” currently working as an Artist in Residence at the Instructables Lab, San Francisco, came up with the fabulous idea for faux tombstones amusing yet useful herb garden approach, as a result of a conversation with Instructables member TangerineBadger.

Turn the unsightly bare earth of your herb garden into a charming old cemetery by planting mini gravestones! … a simple, if slightly morbid, way to make use of the patches of soil that are visible before your herbs have sprouted. It also provides attractive labels for the herbs once they are fully grown.

The one challenge, for most of us DIY crafters with a love for gardening, is that we don’t tend to have a laser thingie machine for etching acrylic — which is called for in the otherwise excellent and detailed instructions for this project. Since there’s no way I’m going to buy a laser cutter to cut the plant names into acrylic, and I don’t know anyone who’s got one tucked away in the corner of their kitchen, I’m brainstorming alternative how-to methods here…

Let’s suppose you want to DIY, or maybe you (try to) grow different herbs from just the Parsley, Sage, Cilantro, Chives, and Basil for which gravestones are available…

  • What about making a plasticine mold, perhaps, to create the little plant-marker tombstone with the same kind of cement you’d use for decorative stepping stones in the garden?
  • Or maybe there’s some kind of pourable epoxy type kit one could find amongst the craft suppliles?
  • Modelling clay might work, if you put on a waterproof glaze of some sort. But would a clay slab have to be quite thick and heavy, in order to be strong enough to stand on end? And what if you don’t have a kiln?
  • Penfold suggests Sculpey, which would be much lighter in weight.
  • Or if you know a model railroad fan you might beg a supply of Sculptamold or similar modeling compound…

All of these methods could be a lot of fiddley work, though, to make a number of different herb tombstones. Because really, to pull this off, you need the carry the theme through the entire herb garden, with a different shape of marker for each type of plant you want to grow… But for those of us who struggle to keep an herb garden alive, the Herb Graveyard project is really too delicious an idea to let go.

So I’m looking for ideas on this, people — any suggestions for other (easier, less expensive) ways to make these without laser-cutting acrylic?

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2 comments… add one

  • Jeff Rawson 2013/10/17, 9:24 am

    You can get craftwood letters in many sizes and fonts from Craft supplies and give them a few coats of sealer, then a lick of mold release before placing them into your tombstone mold…Done right they should come out easily and leave a seemingly carved script. It’s either that or carving with a rotary tool through a stencil.

    • Domestik Goddess 2013/10/17, 10:52 am

      Great idea, Jeff, thanks! Using craft wood letters as part of the mold would be much easier than carving the letters out afterwards, for sure. Just a matter of getting them lined up right… maybe gluing in place on a piece of brown paper to keep them aligned in the mold? I think you’re onto something there!

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