Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rhubarb leaf stepping stones

Last year at my suggestion, my Garden Club tried our hand at making stepping stones out of concrete using rhubarb leaves as a mold. The project was so successful we did it again this year.

DH and I are planning a small patio to the left of the front door in a little-used space bordered by the driveway, house and sidewalk leading to the door. We'll use a dozen or so store-bought (well, yard sale-bought) square stepping stones to make a flat area for a chair or two maybe with a side table but the leaf-shaped ones will be set-in here and there, not so much for walking, but to get to a spot for weeding, etc. I'll set them in loose dirt with a layer of sand underneath for a firm base but I don't want to take a chance on cracking one from too much traffic or loose placement. They're supposed to be fairly sturdy but they're too pretty for everyday use. (Bet you never heard that phrase applied to a stepping stone before!)

The directions we used came from this site: rhubarb leaf stepping stones There are lots of sites with directions for making stepping stones using old cake pans, pizza boxes, etc. for molds, too. No need to buy a special mold.

My mom made several round molds with scalloped edges by cutting strips of plastic that was originally intended to make a protective form for filling with leaves -- like you'd use to protect rose bushes or fig trees from winter weather. She set the circle on a square of plywood (scrap, of course) and covered the wood with a couple of plastic grocery bags (recycling, you know). I made this one using an extra large cake pan I found at a rummage sale for a quarter. DS put a handprint in the middle for me and we added a few leaves (ivy, fern, small hosta) around the edges. The leaves fall away after the concrete dries but the imprint remains. (BTW, that's not a stain at the bottom of the circle -- that's dirt. It's a stepping stone, remember?)

These are all stones from the first (2006) attempt. Haven't picked up this year's stones yet. Left them to dry at the meeting site as it's recommended you don't move the stones for at least 24hrs after making. They need a chance to set-up first. Helps prevent cracking, etc. Here's three more stones completed last year -- think the small one was a hosta leaf, rather than rhubarb.

5 comments:

ORSprueills said...

I am excited to try these stepping stones. Our rhubarb is growing like crazy this year, so I'm excited to have a purpose for the leaves too.

Carolyn said...

Hope you enjoy making them as much as I have. My garden club's going to make them again this year by popular request -- you can always find a place for a couple more.

LunaCafe said...

Would love to try this! I have been looking everywhere for rhubarb plants or even seeds but no luck so far. First I need some rhubarb. :-)

ORSprueills said...

You may need to find them at a u-pick or local farmer. Grocery stores won't carry the leaves, since they are dangerous to eat.

Carolyn said...

The best rhubarb source would be one nearby so the rhubarb is acclimated to your gardening zone. It requires a cold winter unless grown as an annual. As ORSprueills suggests, I'd try a local farmer's market or even a flea market -- around here people often bring plants to sell as well as household goods.

If you don't have any luck finding rhubarb, try using large hosta or elephant ear leaves to make the stepping stones tho I know that won't help if you're craving rhubarb to eat...