Post image for “Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop” – Garden Benches

“Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop” – Garden Benches

by ESP on April 3, 2010 · 21 comments

“Smell my finger”…

Err…”No Thanks”!

I would rather smell this, thank you very much!  The aroma from my

Pittosporum tobira ‘Variegata’

or more commonly known mock orange, is hard to put into words. It is filling the entire back quarter of the patch with the most amazing scent right now, in fact, I am making fake journeys and excuses to go back there just to catch another whiff of it.

The sweet orange blossom aroma from this shrub / small tree will perfume a garden with an aroma that will last for weeks.  It makes an excellent specimen plant and a beautiful tree form when trimmed correctly.  I have trained mine in the same fashion that I do with my mountain laurels, Vitex and Opuntia …that is as high as possible.

Now to business…

The past few days in the Patch I have spent contorted into unusual body positions, performing unusual maneuvers with rather antiquated tools, namely a hand saw, a screwdriver and a drill, I ache in places I never even new I had.  What was I doing?  Well for some strange reason I sort of fell into a project that I have been thinking about for ages.  I have just never really known how to get started or where to begin.  Having some spare lumber already on hand to form the backbone of the project, I decided it was time to jump in and give it a bash.  I was going to build a bench!

“I am Maximus Decimus Meridius and this garden bench SHALL prevail”.

It turned out that this activity was perfectly timed with The Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop – “Garden Benches”, over at:

This bench would not be planned, it would not be exact, it was not going to adhere to any ergonomic standards, in fact the whole thing was going to be improvised, winged, made up on the spot…

No spirit levels, no circular saws and strictly no set squares, oh no, that would make the job too easy.  It was either going to end up looking like something from the Beverly Hillbillies or miraculously turn out looking like something that resembled a garden bench, I had no idea.

My intent was to develop some form of seating between these two trellised vertical posts, I say “some form” as I really had no idea what was going to form, or how I was going to build it. The two posts were also not aligned, the right one was actually twisted…mmm, I would deal with this little inconvenience later I told myself.  Early on in the non-planning stage it slowly dawned on me that the Mexican weeping bamboo that I had only removed from the front of my house a couple of weeks back was slap-bang in the middle of the right hand side of where the future “seat” needed to be.  As much as I dreaded digging the beast up once again it just had to be done.

A few Home Depot brackets and a bit of concrete later I had the skeleton of my Frankenstein’s bench blocked out.  Photo courtesy of elder Hobbit.

I was determined at this point, that whatever I built, it was going to have a building code equivalent to Fort Knox…oh yes, this bench was going to be solid and quite large as it turns out.

Putting on the seating slats had to be one of the most mundane jobs…ever, especially considering that I was screwing everything down by hand, it took me the best part of three hours, each panel having four screws in it.  While I was performing this mind-numbing task I actually taught my daughter the meaning of the word “tedious”, just to take my mind off it.  The smell from the blooming Meyer lemon was the only thing that kept me sane.

Here is the final Alice in Wonderland throne in all her pre-stained glory. In order to secure the backboards to something in the middle, I found that I required yet another post to be concreted in for support, digging that hole was such a joy! Not!  I used the top of this new post for a small shelf, I figured it may come in useful for something in the future, like citronella candles!  You can see it behind “Alice”, she is already hosting a tea-party on it!

“Interesting proportions ESP.”

Likewise Helena !

The bench seats all members of the Patch with room to spare!  Just a couple of finishing touches…

Well you have to have one of these…

“Nice touch ESP”!

…and a couple of lucky horseshoes to ensure your arse stays splinter free!  Now I need a few more coats of stain, a seating mat and some pillows and its done.  An improvised bench that took three days.  My oldest hobbit calls it the garden sofa, me?  I have many names for it, most of which will make your hair curl!

This new bench offers a great lounging place from which most of the garden can be viewed, in the shade!

The unintentional over-sized proportions really gives it a sense of presence in the Patch…where has it been all my life!  I have another two vertical beams that I am thinking I may use to construct another, but not until the memory of building this one fades into my subconscious.

Oh no! no-one is getting out of here without another four nerve daisy plug.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!
1 Pam/Digging April 5, 2010 at 9:08 am

The bench looks great, ESP, and I love how it holds all members of the Patch. A perfect touch. Like childbirth, you’ll forget the agony and be ready to construct another one soon, I bet. Maybe in August…under an iced turban.

That’s also a lovely picture of your daughter at the end.

2 Jenny April 5, 2010 at 9:29 am

Wonderful bench. So can I put in my reservation for 2, for Saturday at 10am on the day of the tour? I’m sure the darling little hobbits will be hanging out there with their Roy Rogers and Shirley Temples.
Do you ever take a weekend off?

3 ESP April 5, 2010 at 10:17 am

HI Pam, and thanks.

I was really happy how the dimensions came out, we have never really had a focal point in the Patch where we could all hang out together, so it fits the bill perfectly. I like your childbirth analogy though I am not so sure of constructing another one anytime soon!…You just want to see me adorning that iced turban don’t you? :-)
The “elder” really does love those daisies and thank you.


4 ESP April 5, 2010 at 10:39 am

Hi Jenny.

You have got to stop mentioning the tour, I am sure it raises by blood pressure significantly :-)
Yes reservation duly noted and logged…I will put small name tags along the bench on “the big day”. The hobbits are already in training as wait staff.
A weekend off? Never!
I am making on right now before the heat and the mosquitoes force me inside or strip the flesh from my bones. It has been the perfect conditions for such work.
Glad you liked the bench.


5 kathy April 5, 2010 at 7:41 pm

I love, love, love that Texas size bench! It looks perfect in your gardens, and what makes it even better, you made it — didn’t buy it! Bravo!

6 ESP April 5, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Hi Kathy.
Glad you like the Texas bench. It was both a pain and a lot of fun at the same time to make. I will be happy not to come face to face with my screwdriver any time soon though!

7 Les April 5, 2010 at 8:21 pm

My favorite part are the accessories (or are they necessities?) – the arse protecting horse shoes and the beverage holder.

8 ESP April 5, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Mine too Les!
Now to install that cooler/iced turban shelf underneath the bench for the Texas summer.

9 Bob Pool April 5, 2010 at 11:08 pm

No squares, no level, no electricity,[savage hair pulling gesture] I would have gone crazy. Unbelievably, with a profession of building all kinds of things for other people, I cannot see square, level or plumb. I have the best equipment money can buy for doing it though. And no planning either? I have to see the whole project in my mind before I will start. That would have driven me absolutely crazy.

It sure did come out nice though, absolutely beautiful. I only see one teensy, tiny, small problem though. It’s not metal.

An old saying from back in the twenties that you might want to remember though-“Electricity, it can be our friend”.

10 ESP April 5, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Haha Bob!

I just go old-school at times -“little house on the prairie”, or perhaps “Dead Wood”? :-)
Unlike you I am not a professional nor do I have the latest tools for any job, in fact I have very few tools at all! My father-in-law did offer some more contemporary aids, like a circular saw, but I decided to go old west, and do it all by hand. Sawing without a line…it was just me…my hand-saw, and the lumber I had on hand, I was in hogs heaven!
I am just so happy it was not a totally embarrassing Hill-Billy final result, with duct-tape visible etc. (I would have posted it anyway).

Now to power my TV with an elaborate system of belts and pulley’s hooked up to my modified bicycle! … Next weekends project.

Cheers Bob.

11 Robin at Getting Grounded April 7, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Bob beat me to it…I am happy to offer you the use of my battery operated power screwdriver, perfect for projects like this! I would have given up after the first hands screw, but then, I’m not testosterone filled. I love the end result, that bench is awesome! Put me in for a spot after Jenny is done with it.

12 ESP April 7, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Hi Robin.
Glad you liked the ESP’s new bench! I have given it a couple more coats of stain since my last post, it now has a much richer color, you will see in my next post. I did have an electric drill but the drill-bit kept stripping the top of the screws 3/4’s of the way into the wood, oh no, it needed a more manual approach, seriously it did!

Spot Duly noted on the bench Robin :-)

13 Cheryl April 8, 2010 at 9:03 pm

LOVE the bench! You certainly won’t have to worry about it blowing away in a Texas Tornado! (do you get tornados or is that just an expression?) I can’t imagine all that work without the “proper” tools though. I have enough trouble WITH the “proper” tools! LOL So next, a giant picnic table?

14 ESP April 8, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Hi Cheryl.
I will be strapping myself and all my family to the underside of this bench with an elaborate system of bungee-cords should a tornado head toward Austin, forget about closets or jumping into the bathtub!
What a great idea, a giant picnic table to go along with it!

15 Katina April 9, 2010 at 8:03 am

Wow, awesome bench.

And awesome picture of the eldest hobbit.


16 ESP April 9, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Hi Katina.
Glad you like my experimental bench, we have all had a good time lounging on it in this great weather with no mosquitoes.
My eldest has always taken good photographs ever since she was little.
Thanks K.

17 Nan Ondra April 25, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Hey, that’s a great-looking bench! And it’s a perfect fit for that spot. I love that you started the project and *then* realized that you’d need to move the bamboo (again). That happens to me way too often. It’s funny when it happens to someone else, though. Thanks for sharing the saga for this month’s Design Workshop!

18 ESP April 25, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Hey Nan, and thanks, the bench has made use of this dead-space once and for all! The good news is that the Mexican weeping bamboo that I had to once again move…(it has been everywhere) has lived, and is merrily residing under my post-oak tree. I will leave this bamboo alone for a while, it deserves a bit of a rest.
Thanks for hosting these workshops!

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: