Pat Brehaut
Photos by Jon D. Brehaut

Leaf Bowl in a Calgary Garden - EHS

Leaf Bowl in a Calgary Garden

I have long admired leaf impression concrete stepping stones. I discovered even more attractive concrete bowls embedded with rhubarb leaf impressions on a recent tour of Calgary gardens. These were placed variously as birdbaths or downspout splash pads. They looked great!

I decided to try my hand at making one. First, I went to the Internet and found many different sites with instructions and tips for making concrete stepping stones and leaf impression stepping stones and shallow birdbaths. Combining what I gleaned from these sites, I came up with my own way to do it. I made two, learned a lot, and have been reasonably pleased with the results (though I may take yet another crack at a more refined version). I thought I’d share the experience here to encourage you to try it too.

This is a good project for August through October for the best choice of leaves. You will get good rhubarb leaves earlier, of course.

Skill level: Easy, for the rustic look. More refined looks take practice!

Cost: Inexpensive if you have the basic tools on hand. Supplies such as the concrete, wire mesh, paint and sealant will give you leftovers for other projects.

Time: One-two hours (faster on the second try) for the first phase. Two days wait for drying and another few days for curing before decorating/sealing (if desired).

Suggested Supplies/Needs:

  • Patch of dirt in garden or a large planter (such as whiskey barrel) filled with dirt
  • Plastic sheeting (can substitute 3 large plastic garbage bags)
  • Two pails for water
  • Tub or wheel barrow for mixing concrete
  • Scale (optional)
  • Gloves (work gloves and rubber gloves)
  • Trowel
  • Old toothbrush
  • Wire cutters
  • Mask (optional, but the dust from some concrete mixes can be quite corrosive.)
  • Water
  • Leaf or leaves with prominent veins (Rhubarb, Ligularia, some Hostas, Maples, etc.)
  • Cooking spray such as Pam
  • A couple of handfuls of small pebbles or clean gravel.
  • Wire mesh (Found at hardware store if you do not have a scrap. You need very little, but get strong stuff with small spaces, not chicken wire)
  • Concrete (the sand-based type that just requires adding water. I used Homecrete Sand Mix from Home Hardware, 25kg bag for under $10.00. Sand-based means a smoother finish. Gravel-based is too coarse.)
  • Concrete colourant (I had some from a craft kit) or paint (I used small bottles of Craftsmart outdoor acryllic paint from Michaels at $1.69 per bottle))
  • Concrete sealant (I used Pottery Sealer in a spray can from Michaels at $10.00)
  • Any other decoration you may wish such as marbles, small tiles, sparkles, glass or pottery pieces, etc. Use your imagination or keep it clean and simple. Your choice.