Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Sucker for Succulents.

Like most of my current obsessions, I blame Pinterest. Honestly, I have such a love/hate relationship with that site. While I adore and drool over the beautiful, artsy, stunning creations and pin, pin, pin until I'm bleary--I'm not a crafty girl. Truly. 

For instance, I found an adorable birthday banner on Pinterest and decided I needed to make it for both Kristen and Mikey's recent birthdays. Now, most people could whip those banners together in a heartbeat. 

Instead, there's craft-challenged me. 

Six hours. Times two. I lost 12 hours of my life creating birthday banners to hang for a day. 

Actually, Michael's banner still remains hanging from the mantle, although his birthday was April 18. I left it there as a cautionary tale, reminding me to stay away from Pinterest.

But then, in a moment of weakness, I stumbled upon a photo of a succulent wreath. The original Pin was from a Better Homes & Garden project. You can see it here.

It. Was. Divine.

Lush foliage, subtle colors packed into a living wreath? Yes. I needed it. Our poor, bare front door deserved this wreath. It would proclaim--a gardener lives here! (As if the flats of plants on the driveway and the gloves on the front doorstep didn't already give it away.)

As I researched the steps involved in creating the wreath, my courage waivered. I thought of the birthday banner debacle.

Fortunately, fate arrived in the form of a gift card from my sister to The Urban Planter--just as they announced openings for a succulent wreath workshop.

Hooray! Not only would I have a support group to help me if my lack of craftiness usurped my gardening ability, but The Urban Planter would also provide all of the materials needed. 

No running out mid-project for more succulent cuttings. No prep work. No mess in my house. And an evening out with grown-ups? 

It was kismet.

So last night, fueled with much Diet Coke, I joined the lovely owners of The Urban Planter, as well as three other gardening-obsessed ladies, to create my highly anticipated living wreath.

The variety of succulent clippings provided was worth the price of the workshop alone.

We each received a pre-made, pre-soaked sphagnum moss wreath form. 

If you're playing along at home, you can build your own wreath form using mesh tubing stuffed with moss, a wire wreath-shaped frame, and fishing line to tie the tubing onto the frame.The pre-made form also included a chain for hanging the wreath, as well as "feet" to keep the wreath from laying flush against the door. If you make your own wreath form, you'll want to add plastic to the back of the wreath to prevent the moist wreath from damaging a wooden door.

The only additional tools you'll need besides your clippings and the wreath form are a pencil (or similar sized object, like a chopstick) to poke holes in the wreath and possibly some pins to hold heavier cuttings in place.  I only used a few of the pins.

As with any container or floral design, think about form and colors when selecting and placing your clippings. I tried to use groupings of three--but I found I needed more groupings to fill the form, so I used groups of five.

Select your cutting, removing any bottom leaves so that you have at least an inch of clean stem. Poke a hole in the form and insert the stem into the moist moss.  

(Obviously, these lovely, manicured hands are not mine. Thank you to my hand models!)

If the cutting is heavy or hanging downward, you may want to add a pin to secure it.

(Yep. That's my raggedy, non-manicured hand. Shameful.)

Poke holes, insert clipping, repeat. 

It's really that simple.

Of course, the fun is putting the combinations together:

While the image on Pinterest is obviously packed full with succulents, you'll have gaps in your newly-created wreath, which will allow the succulents room to grow.  

 Paul, the owner of The Urban Planter, created this stunner last night.

Once you've filled your form with cuttings, allow the wreath to rest for a week or two before hanging to allow the cuttings to root. Lay it flat in indirect light. After a few weeks, you can hang your masterpiece.

Remember, though--a living wreath needs water. Every two weeks or so, give it a good soaking. Succulents don't like to be over-watered--but don't forget them, either. (Not that I would ever forget to water a plant...) 

And now, drum roll, please:

TA DA! A Pinterest project that only took 1-1/2 hours to create! And I didn't lose my sanity!

I'm looking forward to watching how the wreath develops. I may find a few more succulents to sneak into the gaps--or I may just leave it alone and practice patience.

We'll see...

Thanks so much to The Urban Planter for hosting this very fun workshop. If you live in Upstate SC and want to attend one of their workshops (or if you just want to find the most beautiful garden treats and living arrangements), check out their website for class schedules. Please tell Paul, Tara, and Becky I said hello!

And, if you create your own succulent wreath, stop by my Facebook page and share a photo of it. I'd love to see what you make!

Happy wreath making!



P.S. Shared with The HomeAcre Hop and The Creative HomeAcre Blog Hop--check them out for more great ideas.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Birthdays, Buddies, and Blooms, Oh My.

Hello, hello! Remember me? Sorry for the silence. It's Mikey's fault. You see, one birthday in the midst of growing season I can manage, and since Kristen arrived almost perfectly on time (April 2), I can't blame her for my blogging absence. But Mikey? Well, that little stinker's original due date was May 18. Guess who decided to show up a month early? He's such a troublemaker. (Truly. Bed rest and everything with that boy. Good thing he turned out to be so sweet and funny, or I might really hold a grudge!) 

So, during the craziest growing and gardening time, we have two birthdays to celebrate. Kristen opted for a girlfriend sleepover, creating tie-dye shirts and hanging out by a bonfire.

Mikey wanted the action of Frankie's Fun Park with friends. Laser tag, go karts, and lots of noise... 


The drummer boys...Mikey opened the present from big brother, Tyler: "Look! I got shelves!" It's actually a cajon, a wooden, bongo-like instrument. Between the djembe and the caj on, they had quite a jam session.

Have I mentioned that I love birthdays? The former PR girl/event planner in me loves a good party.

Peter thinks I'm a bit obsessive.

Just because we have to celebrate on the actual date, then celebrate with friends, and of course have a family party on the weekend, does that really make me obsessive?

I hate it when he's right.

Poor Mikey, he was sick on his birthday. Toast and jello aren't very festive. He rallied, though, and enjoyed the weekend with friends and family.
Chloe didn't know what to think about my great-nephew, Max. 
Hanging out with Max just makes me happy.

Actually, our kids have spent a lot of time at home, sick, over the past few months, which is another reason I'm behind on my writing. Poor kiddos, it's been a rough time, but I think we've finally gotten them over the worst of it. (Crossing fingers and toes.)

(Note to self: Never tell a friend that your kids rarely have stomach issues. I can assure you, Murphy will be listening, and you'll suddenly find that your kids are champion thrower-uppers. Lesson learned. Blegh.)

On the rare occasions that the kids went to school, we had some gardening fun. I helped Mikey's class plant a pollinator garden...

...but more on that in my next post. All I can say is...teachers should be our highest paid professionals. Those kids wore me out! 

Then, I planted salad bowls with Mikey's Scout troop. 

The boys were great, but more on that to come, too.

When we weren't throwing birthday parties or gardening with kids, we coached (Peter) and cheered (me) at soccer games...

 Goal! (Mikey is #3)

...celebrated the Grand Opening of Kristen's trainer's new stables...

...chased chickens...

...and tried to find a little time to enjoy the spring blooms.

 Bleeding Heart, one of my favorites.

 Columbine, another favorite.

Tulips are almost done. Sniff.

Loropetalum continues a magnificent show.

Emerging Autumn ferns...

First azalea blossom.


Irises are replacing tulips blooms.

 Dutch iris...I wish I had planted hundreds of them. Truly one of my favorite spring flowers.

Lilac. 'Miss Kim' isn't as showy as the variety my mother grew in the north, 
but the fragrance is just as sweet.

Strawberry season is just around the corner...

...and our blueberry bushes are full of blooms.

Bees love Pieris Japonica.

I didn't plant anything in this container--the violets are a happy accident!

Hostas and Solomon's Seal are waking up.

No matter how many lilies of the valley we plant, we only have a few appear...
but I love them.

I wish our forest was covered in trillium. I adore them.

So, that's what's been happening here. Birthdays are behind us, and now it's time to get serious garden work accomplished. 

Weeds, beware--I'm coming! 

What are your gardening plans this week?

My plans are to clean up the kitchen garden beds and the potager and plant warm weather crops. 

But I promise--I'll be back soon. Hope you'll join me!

Happy gardening!

XO ~