tribute to nongardening family members

denisez10(SoCal)June 24, 2007

I can't think of who else would care about this stuff, so it gets posted here!

I've been playing with moss this summer for the first time and having too much fun. My infatuation with moss this season started with planting an old hay rack I've had for years, where I kept pots and supplies. Coleus, mission bells, sweet potatoes, etc. Didn't stop there, though.

This was finished yesterday, so it's fairly raw looking still. Feels like kindergarten again. Oldest son looked at creation and said, You told me to tell you when you're way over the top, and this is definitely OTT. Youngest son says, It's a planetoid. I approve. But exactly, I replied. My better half drops his own project, putting speakers in his '71 VW camper and says, Where do you want to hang it? How're we going to get the two halves together? Wire? Sure, I've got some. You've got chain? Great.

It's two baskets wired together, incredibly heavy. All the stuff was at hand including the succulents, which were pilfered from garden plantings and pots. Too soon to tell whether it's a monstrosity or way cool. But I wanted to let the string-of-pearls and the senecio fish-hook succulents display to their best advantage, spilling downward. It does swing around in the wind so all sides can be seen. The top half was supposed to be really spheroid, with tight, close texture of small succulents, and these plants may be too large. Would've been better to shop specifically for it, maybe using just hens-and-chicks, but I just HAD to dive in, this minute, now, now, no time like the present. It's a little too busy for my taste, but still a great way to grow succulents, out of reach of hungry snails.

I did this basket with Coco Loco coleus, sweet potatoes, aeoniums, oxalis a week or so ago, and it's still not knitted together. It sits on top of an urn which is kinda the focal point of the main bed (where the Euphorbia Tasmanian Tiger was grouped in a previous post). I really want to let these draping plants like sweet potatoes show their stuff. Sheets of chartreuse or burgundy is the idea. Surrounding the urn in the ground is Scabiosa Ace of Spades and white gaura, very monochromatic. This moss thing might prove to be a resounding dead end when the heat really kicks in, but boy was it a great time.

And this is a three-tiered spice rack that's been kicking around for years. Glad I saved it. Wanted a container that would show off the senecio fish-hook. Great plant. Very big into plant spillage this year, for some reason. Middle tier is the pest Erigeron kara-something, but very nice floaty effect here. Didn't want to bug anyone to help hang it, so temporarily propped it/wedged it on the boys old bunkbed ladder, where it miraculously stays perched and wedged. voila

And I'll spare you the wee bulk-head light moss/succulent thingy I did! OTT indeed!

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It's so nice to see you post again, Denise! Beautiful shots... now I'll go back and read the text. ;)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 3:01PM
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Bravo ! these are awesome. I gave up on moss baskets a long while back because I just couldn't keep them watered enough in the summer...but the succulents should work great. Never did throe out the baskets though. Hmmm...
Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 3:06PM
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Sister, you are SO all about it. :) YEAH!!

I'm just blown away by the succulents. Bein' a Maine girl, there ain't NO WAY I could pull off any of what you've just created unless I lived in a camper in the middle of a paved parking lot!

Kathy was right... the left coast is under represented here. What you have posted is breathtaking and marvelously gentle with respect to water requirements in an area that must perpetually worry about its availability.

Wow! don't be a stranger... OK???

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 3:10PM
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flowerluvr(Z5 IN)

Glad to see you posting. Your pictures are great! I hope you'll let us know how the moss works out as the season goes along. I love succulents, and the hanging ball is just way cool!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 5:32PM
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wendy2(zone 6 MA)

Denise - good to see you again! Another here loving the succulents! Your gardens are so different from what we have on the east coast - I really enjoy seeing them. The "planetoid" is cool - it looks great. I also like the way the light is hitting the ?aeoniums (the rosette-looking ones) in the second picture. Show us the bulk-head light thingy, please!


    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 6:24PM
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Oh, I'll definitely post photos again if and when the things survive. The "seeds" for this little madness were sown years ago, when I dragged my husband through a Grand Garden tour of England in the early '90s. Sissinghurst, Great Dixter, Hidcote, Powys, Mottisfont, you name it. Perversely, he was most impressed by the hanging baskets outside every pub (didn't miss too many of those, Guinesss for him, Bass shandys for me). Why can't I grow something like that? I gave a killjoy explanation that the water requirements would be nuts in our climate. This year he asked for hanging baskets on his garage workshop, promised to water them himself. How could I refuse? But for sheer survivability, I'd definitely use more succulents than summer annuals.

I made a special note of the hanging baskets at a nursery today, something I've never looked at! and saw the skill with which the edges are rolled with moss.

Taken in awful light for photography, but gives the idea. It's the hay basket made for the workshop:

and the bulkhead thingy:

and I'm out of moss, thank goodness.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 7:30PM
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Bet they could sell the bulkhead thingy for 100 bucks at Rogers Gardens ...Why oh why did I look at this thread ? And I thought I was done planting..

Did you ever learn the wrap-push-squish tecnique for the edges Denise ?It takes about 1/3rd of the moss to do the edges.It does help to keep the soil in with the frequent waterings...

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 8:45PM
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Kathy, I have no technique at all and didn't research how to go about it, just plunged in, so share that rim trick! In fact, it was at Rogers Gardens today that I saw their exquisite moss handiwork on their baskets, very tight. Got some neat stuff from Annie's Annuals there, a new echevaria and curly aeonium. And a gorgeous 'Gage's Shadow' perilla. I'd never even looked at hanging baskets at nurseries before today. I have certain stuff I always check out, and hanging baskets was never one of the categories. I saw lots of patrons plunking pricey moss baskets on their carts but nothing really tempted me. It's more fun to make than to own them. Truth is, I'm really more of a minimalist and don't want a lot of hangy thingy's everywhere. Except the succulent ones do have intriguing possibilities, and I do have a verdigris bulkhead lamp left...

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 9:44PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Fun fun fun!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 12:53AM
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Wow Denise! These are just great! I think succulents can be very whimsical plants, that's what I like about them, and I really see that in your work. Love your choices for "containers" too! And the hay basket is wonderful. I'd love to see all of these again after they've filled in and grown. I can imagine how even more lovely they'll be then. I'm thinking I'd like to see more of your garden too??? Great to have you join in here with us. Stick around!


    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 7:45AM
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Denise - these are awesome!! You've made me want to rush out and buy some moss too. My non-gardening husband loves succulents and would enjoy those enormously. Keep the photos coming! Your gardens are a world apart from my English inspired cottage flowers - it's wonderful to add such horticultural diversity.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 8:46AM
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chloehoover(z6b VA)

Terrific, Denise -- I'd love to know how to over-winter those aeonium - I've got several and they are sickly, sad things having spent all winter inside.... spindly Gomer Pyle stalks! Do you cut all this stuff back or what?

I think someone should start a succulent thread... I'd love to see everyone's cool specimens - I better Mary's got some great stuff in her hypertufa pots.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 1:18PM
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Well, it's good to know my stuff doesn't seem too bizarro. I appreciate all types of gardens and plantings but have recently started to really embrace the path of least resistance. Cindy, the aeoniums grow year-round out here, but there was an unusual freeze this past winter, a first for me, and I lost a couple plectranthus but not much else. I did move a few potted plants into the laundry shed for a couple nights. However, a local botanic garden a few miles inland, with a huge succulent garden, the Huntington in Pasadena, had massive losses of some succulents. In fact, I think they had aeoniums bedded out for spring display by the dozens that they lost.

I'm not sure if they need to be overwintered any different than the summer container plants you guys are such whizzes at. I struggle with growing coleus here cuz there's not much humidity, but succulents I can do!

I get increasingly more xeric in the front garden every year:

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 3:15PM
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Denise, this last picture of yours and a few on the first container thread remind me of under the sea scenes. Very cool and so different from anything we could have here in MI! Thanks for sharing 'your world'!


    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 4:30PM
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Denise, if you don't mind my asking, what county are you in ? And you are coastal ? I'm a SoCal native so just trying to get a geographic snapshot of your micro-climate..
Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 10:44PM
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Not at all, Kathy. I'm in Long Beach, about a mile from the ocean. We're still having our "June gloom," overcast until about noon, temps in the 70s to low 80s. One of my favorite times of the year.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 11:07PM
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deanneart(z5Southern NH)

All of your work is absolutely marvelous Denise!!! Love, love, love all the baskets and moss work. I've been thinking of trying my hand at using moss instead of coco fiber and I think I'll have to do it after seeing these. Thanks for sharing!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 6:20AM
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