Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Work Continues on ACBS Penjing Landscape Project

At the January meeting, ACBS members began putting together the "nuts and bolts" of the penjing landscape project.  As noted in an earlier post, the landscape project covers a wide area equal to the size of a large counter top, approximately 8 feet by 3 feet.  The area has been divided into 14 different sections, or trays, with each tray to be developed by an ACBS member.  Each tray planting is conceived so that it could stand on its own as a small individual composition, and at the same time, the 14 sections can be fitted together to form one large landscape.

Legs on underside of tray
 The first hurtle was over come as Carlton brought the individual penjing trays to the meeting. Each tray had been cut to size from a single sheet of deep blue Corian, a durable synthetic material used to make kitchen counter tops.  In addition, the underside of the cut trays was fitted like a low table with legs made of stacked Corian.  This raised and supported them as to appear similar to classic penjing trays.  The sides of the trays were neatly sanded and polished flush.  This time consuming task was in itself a noteworthy accomplishment and gave the project a good initial boost.  

Much of the meeting was spent piecing together the landscape in total and selecting areas of the stone where plants would be located.  Some collaboration and visualization was needed to make sure that interesting features in the stones were kept undisturbed, that plants from one section would flow with the next, and the placement of the stones from one section would align itself into the overall design.  Much care was taken to try to maintain the cohesiveness of the overall landscape.

Preparing for the plants required some drilling and gouging in the stones.  Die grinders with a rasp tool and power drills were used to create hollows for small trees and plants, and members took turns doing this task.  In drilling out the hollows, it was important to place the them at a proper angle to allow some plants to cascade over the side of a stone or reach straight upward--and to also to ensure that plants, would not interfere with any of the objects in the adjacent trays.

One issue that has not yet been solved is the problem of finding a material to create the boarders between the land and water feature areas.  Such materials as gorilla glue, silicone window caulk, and others have  been suggested.   Several members are experimenting with how well these materials work and how natural they can be made to look with the addition of sand or soil.

Next up will be the selection of pant materials for the project.  Several small species are being considered, mostly evergreens.  The whole project should begin to take shape as the spring months approach.  Stay tuned; more to come.

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