Large Garden Lady Sculpture

Large Garden Lady Sculpture – Hypertufa or Concrete?

Should I Use a Hypertufa or Concrete Recipe For a Large Reclining Lady Garden Sculpture?

I recently received an email from Jan (from Michigan) asking me for some advice:

Now some of you might be familiar with the sculpture that Jan was talking about – Ive posted an image over to the right. 

It’s located in the so-called “Lost Gardens of Heligan” – in Cornwall in the UK. And they have some beautiful sculptures, and one in particular called the  “Giant Sleeping Moss Lady”. 


Closer to home, a 36-foot-long sculpture of a sleeping moss-covered woman is being created in a shady clearing behind Cameron Bandshell in Beacon Hill Park. An irrigation system mists the moss three times a day, whilst the sculpture’s “hair” is flowering crocosmia plants.


Anyways, Jan continued with her actual question…

My reply:


Hi Jan:


Thanks for all the kind compliments and for including the photo with your email. I find it interesting and I’m sure the others who view this will too!

OK … let’s straighten out some things for you. I’ll point you in the right direction and answer a few of your questions.


Let me address this first — you ask, “Can I use hypertufa for this project? It appears to be the same as mixing cement …” Yes, you can use hypertufa for your project, and yes, it does contain cement as one of the ingredients, but hypertufa is NOT the same as a concrete recipe.


Hypertufa contains peat moss — always! — as one of it’s ingredients. And the peat moss is meant to decompose over time, leaving pits and crevices. This replicates real Tufa rock. So, is a hypertufa recipe going to be necessary to use, if you’re letting plants grow over your form? If you want a faux rock appearance to show through between creeping plants or moss, then I would use a hypertufa recipe, as like I said, over time pits and crevices will appear, making your form look more like you carved it from real rock.


Otherwise, just use a pure concrete recipe if you’re not concerned about a “real rock” look.


Also, yes … hypertufa, if mixed and cured correctly, should last almost indefinitely outdoors, no matter what type of climate you live in.


And yes, mixing it is quite similar to mixing up a pure concrete recipe. To fully understand the correct way to mix up and cure hypertufa, take a look at some of our articles in hypertufa mixing guidelines and Curing Hypertufa.

And yes, you can sculpt hypertufa as you go along, or let it cure (dry) just a bit and sculpt it. And yes, you can work in sections. But you need to use a bonding agent to make sure the “new” section will adhere properly to the “old” section. We have a great article on hypertufa bonding agents as well 


Bottom line is that this project is doable, but whether you’re working with just a concrete recipe or a hypertufa recipe, you need to educate yourself to the ins and outs, in order to not have a disaster on your hands. I highly suggest you read through all the articles I have on my website about concrete and hypertufa (you’ll find more of your questions answered).


This is a really neat project and I am sure will be quite a conversation piece! 


Let us know how your final project turns out. Good luck! 🙂

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