Wednesday, July 29, 2015

All In A Day's Work

This story begins on the Friday night of Fourth of July weekend.

Sitting on the patio together after dinner, my second-born leveled her gaze at me and calmly threw down the gauntlet. "To be honest, I'm surprised that you've never made a vertical succulent garden in a pallet."

Flustered and maybe a little defensive, I scrambled to respond. "You mean the kind where you drag a pallet out to the patio, prop it up, and then attach little buckets full of flowers to the side? Not really my jam."

"No," she patiently explained. "I mean the kind where you fill the pallet with soil and the succulents grow sideways."

Hmm. That did sound pretty cool. Clearly, some midnight research was in order.

My vertical garden still has a bit of filling in to do, but she is upright, happy, and filling this corner of my backyard with endless charm.

By the time I dragged myself off Pinterest at 3 a.m., I was completely committed.

As I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep, my whirling mind was building a grand scheme. 
  • An extra pallet had been kicking around the garage for months.
  • I had a ton of baby succs that needed a home, thanks to some successful propagation experiments.
  • A quick trip to Home Depot would quickly and economically supply all my other pallet garden needs. 

Right then and there, I pledged to myself that before another day passed, I would indeed be the proud owner of a vertical succulent garden in a pallet.

These baby succulents were raised by yours truly, grown from discarded leaves of their mother plant. I am very proud of their determination.

Next morning, I hopped out of bed, tracked down my husband, and announced the new item on the Saturday agenda. Agreeably, he got to work.

The process of converting a run-of-the mill pallet to a garden-worthy succulent chamber was not complicated. We rearranged a few of the planks to create the desired openings on the front, and then stapled a double layer of landscape fabric to the open back. To ensure that my pallet garden will stand strong in case of nuclear attack, we nailed a series of planks over the top of the landscape fabric.

This wooden beast now weighed about five hundred pounds.
Creating a pleasing of shapes, textures and shades of green is my idea of fun.

Laying the pallet on its back, we poured in two bags of garden soil and packed it firmly into every nook and cranny. Potting soil is too fluffy for this vertical business - only the firm, dense character of proper garden soil can properly defy gravity.

Now the monster checked in at somewhere around a ton.

Time to pop in the plants, which was by far my favorite part. 

After a gentle watering, we carried the contraption to a shady corner of the yard and laid it on a bench, still on its back.

And clearly, the final weight of the completed planter was roughly equivalent to the mass of Jupiter. 

I have a major plant crush on this oversize, geometrically pristine, blue-gray beauty queen. 

For two weeks, my vertical pallet garden lay in this peaceful horizontal state. As I shooed away curious pets, my little garden grew a strong and stable network of roots; after two weeks, we finally tipped her up and introduced her to vertical living.

* * * * *

In all my DIY days, I have never tackled a more enjoyable and satisfying project. Knowing full well that good things usually take time, I rarely pressure myself to get something done in a single day. But this happy endeavor came together on time and under budget. 

So thank you, dear daughter number two, for spurring me on. You were right; a vertical succulent garden in a pallet is exactly what I need. 

And if you, dear reader, have a few extra hours on your hands tomorrow, please allow me to suggest that you consider building one for yourself. 

But if you don't want to make your own, you can always come visit mine. 

* * * * *

In my opinion, you can never have too many succulents, and you can never have too many stories about succulents. Here are a few to choose from:


  1. Wow! That is really impressive. Especially to someone like me with no green thumb whatsoever.

    1. Trust me, you can do this. The hardest part would be keeping up with that scorching Colorado sun.


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