|The back vegetable garden with entrance at each pillar|
|Cutting out the clay|
In the end I came up with an idea that fit all my requirements and was something I felt I could actually make happen. I now have two pillars, made of inexpensive 8x8x8 concrete block, coated in mortar and decorated with purchased river rock. Pillar tops were made of concrete in a plastic bowl I found at the thrift store. It had just the right dimensions and decorative shape and best of all only cost $1.00!
|Cement block and mortar|
Installation was easy enough, living as I do where there is no need to worry about the ground freezing and thawing which could cause the pillars to topple. I simply dug a hole a foot deep, filled it part way with pea gravel, and set the first block on top. I followed with the other blocks, using mortar in between each one. I then pounded a piece of half inch rebar into the center of the block, several feet deeper than the gravel bed, for security sake.
I used a skim coat of thin-set mortar on the outside, finding type S mortar hard to work with for surfacing. However I tried again, on a new project I am working on, and had more success. I think if mixed correctly it works fine for a skim coat.
After letting that coat dry I started the top layer, working on one side at a time, putting on another coat of thin-set and adding river rock designs. I mortared on the ceramic vegetables at the top of the 2 front sides of each pillar. Since I had 5 vegetables I decided to make a third, shorter, pillar in a different bed. For this I used 6x8x8 inch block that I had on hand.
Unhappy with the color of the pillar tops, yet not wanting to obscure the decorative design on the rim, I hit on the idea of mixing some concrete colorant in water and painting it on. It worked like a charm and I am much happier with the look.
The pillars serve several purposes. They are decorative and show off the ceramic vegetables even better than I had hoped. The flat tops (a requirement when I was searching high and low for a form for them) provide a surface for a colander when gathering veggies or for hand tools when gardening. It has also been a landing spot for my coffee mug when an early morning walk turned into a bit of impromptu gardening. And they work perfectly for the thing that got me thinking about making a pillar in the first place: as a hand hold when stepping out of the garden which is a step up from the rest of the yard. Knee injuries have made the availability of something to hold when stepping down a reassuring thing.
Any decorative items could be used for a pillar and they can be made as personal as you like. Be sure to read about safety measures to take when working with concrete and mortar. Play around and see what you can create!