Sequim’s Larry and Susie Ormbrek offer leaves from their gunnera plant for people interested in creating their own concrete tables or bird baths using an online guide. They’ll trim the plants for the fall in the coming week or two. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Sequim’s Larry and Susie Ormbrek offer leaves from their gunnera plant for people interested in creating their own concrete tables or bird baths using an online guide. They’ll trim the plants for the fall in the coming week or two. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Sequim couple offers leaves for concrete table project

Ormbreks see gunnera grow bigger than expected

Some people hand out political or spiritual leaflets, but Larry and Susie Ormbrek look to give out leaves.

The Bothell transplants have been growing a gunnera — also known as dinosaur food, or giant rhubarb — in their front yard off North Seventh Avenue for about three years.

Susie said the largest leaf is about 64 inches wide and the whole perennial is about 7-8 feet tall.

“I haven’t seen one this big up here before,” she said.

Gunnera serves as a polar opposite to Sequim’s lavender, requiring a lot of moisture and soggy ground. The Ormbreks say they have a water system that keeps it watered well.

“It gets more water than our other plants,” Susie said. “The sun doesn’t hit the ground below it.”

As the couple readies for the fall, however, they plan to cut off the leaves in the coming weeks and offer them to community members who may want to do a special project.

Larry Ormbrek takes a closer look at one of the leaves of his gunnera plant. He said they’ve made a table from a leaf before using concrete and an online guide. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Larry Ormbrek takes a closer look at one of the leaves of his gunnera plant. He said they’ve made a table from a leaf before using concrete and an online guide. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Larry said there are easy-to-learn guides online for making cement bird baths from gunnera leaves.

“It makes a wonderful family project before winter hits,” the couple said.

“(The concrete) gets every little detail. It’s amazing,” Larry said.

For those interested in a leaf, email to ormbrek@yahoo.com.

The Ormbreks have seen their gunnera take off similarly to nearby Isobel Johnston’s agave plant by the Sequim Fire District headquarters. She purchased the agave 25 years ago, then the size of a baseball, that has grown into a popular sight for travelers along North Fifth Avenue.

Susie said she bought the plant in a 1-gallon container in Woodinville and didn’t expect it to grow this large. In another part of their yard a similar gunnera was planted, but it hasn’t seen the same success.

Larry said they’ll trim the leaves and stems to above the base and place a few leaves over it to preserve it for winter.

Gunnera like sunlight but also require a lot of moisture and soggy soil to thrive, gardeners say. Photo courtesy of Larry and Susie Ormbrek

Gunnera like sunlight but also require a lot of moisture and soggy soil to thrive, gardeners say. Photo courtesy of Larry and Susie Ormbrek

About the Ormbreks

Prior to growing gunnera in Sequim, the couple operated Sign Up Sign Co. in Bothell for 32 years before selling it more than a year ago. It started inside a dog kennel and grew into a prominent business, Larry said.

They also had multiple ventures for animals, serving as dog breeders for 17 years. They designed dog clothing and had a cat bed and breakfast.

They came to love Sequim while attending a dog show promoting their “Designer DoggieWear!” coats.

Susie said they wanted to be able to walk to downtown easily and an added bonus was being able to see the Olympic Mountains.

“It’s a beautiful, wonderful community,” she said.

For the last year, the couple has been working on landscaping at their home. When on walks, they like to leave painted rocks for people to find through the Sequim Rocks group.

Susie said she likes to paint rocks branded “Kid Rocks” so that children can find hers. They are painted like animals and the couple purposefully looks for rocks that look like critters such as penguins.

“People seem to love them because they’re never there the next day,” she said.

For those interested in a leaf, email to ormbrek@yahoo.com.

Gunnera plants require a lot of moisture and soggy soil. In the winter, the Ormbreks cover their plant with some of its leaves to protect it from frost. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Gunnera plants require a lot of moisture and soggy soil. In the winter, the Ormbreks cover their plant with some of its leaves to protect it from frost. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Gunnera plants require a lot of moisture and soggy soil. In the winter, the Ormbreks cover their plant with some of its leaves to protect it from frost. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Gunnera plants require a lot of moisture and soggy soil. In the winter, the Ormbreks cover their plant with some of its leaves to protect it from frost. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Gunnera plants require a lot of moisture and soggy soil. In the winter, the Ormbreks cover their plant with some of its leaves to protect it from frost. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Gunnera plants require a lot of moisture and soggy soil. In the winter, the Ormbreks cover their plant with some of its leaves to protect it from frost. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

While one of their gunnera plants is more than seven feet tall, the Ormbreks say their second gunnera plant hasn’t been as successful on the other side of their home. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

While one of their gunnera plants is more than seven feet tall, the Ormbreks say their second gunnera plant hasn’t been as successful on the other side of their home. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

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