Euphorbia’s Story

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I think my full name is Euphorbia leucadendron, but I’m not sure.  Most of the time I’m just called Gorgeous.  My owner got me from Dry Garden in Berkeley last August.  Well, I really like my new home, a repurposed cool iced- tea jug that I shared with Crassula pubescens and campfire.  The lady is so nice too, she hangs out, talks to us, and her boy sometimes waters and pets us.

There was a bad guy in the neighborhood though.  He would come uninvited with no shame!  Just lounged around on the chaise and made the cushion dirty.  The worst thing is he knocked down plants almost daily and look what he did last December!  The crazy lady glued the jug back, but no way I’m going back to that cracked pot like my Crassula friends!  Still, it was miserable because for a while I was put in the plastic pot by her potting place.  No attention there!  She kept on saying it was just temporary but my patience was getting thin.

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FINALLY, last week I got a new home!  Another repurposed glass punch bowl that looks like crystal in the morning sun!  Waiting was so worth it even though I share my new place with Aenioum kiwi, Sedum angelina, Portulacaria afra, and an Echeveria.  I’m the tall one and the first thing that you see when you open the kitchen door.

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As for that bad clumsy cat?  We haven’t seen him in a while and we think maybe: 1.  he’s been kept indoors, 2. he found another garden to bother, 3. he’s kaput.  Hopefully it stays that way, things are sure peaceful lately (haven’t heard any cuss words).  I’m so happy that spring is coming, the lady has been busy planting.  The best part is the family and friends hang out more on the patio and admire me ❤

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Life Grows On

I feel very fortunate to have stumbled into succulents 3 years ago and able to turn it to a small business.   Since last year, I’ve joined a few succulent groups online and have made new friends who share the same passion and continually inspire and educate me.  I enjoy everything about gardening with succulents:  from improving my own yard, finding unique vessels at thrift shops and garage sales, making my own containers, then…..  selling them at art fairs.

But I do have a secret….sometimes it’s hard to part with some!  I would tease and laugh at my cousin and vendor buddy, Karen (http://balatong-balatong.blogspot.com/), who would tear up if she sells a piece that she’s attached to.  But in truth, I cry inside too when a favorite piece is gone.  Sometimes we would reminisce about certain pieces and wonder how they are doing.  So this blog is about what happens to some arrangements over time in their original vessels.

There are pieces that don’t sell and always come back home, which is fine also.  It’s wonderful to display and enjoy them in our garden but more than that, I get to observe how they grow, gain more understanding about the plants, and use that as a learning tool to improve my future arrangements.  Also, I get some sense how they would be in their new home.

And then there are some that don’t make it back to the art fairs because they just change too much and need to be replaced.  For example, in the following picture, the smaller mugs were sold, but not the tall one.  It’s been almost a year, and the Senecio scaposus has lost its nice form, but it is healthy, so I’ll just keep it home that way for a little longer.

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The following is one that I really like but never taken,  now this is an example of a plant that doesn’t seem to grow.  After 1 1/2 years, this “Ming Thing” (that’s really the common name) looks practically the same!

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Now the next two have just been to the art fair once in the summer.  These plants grew pretty fast and they’ve been happy outside my kitchen window.  Though the plant in the owl mug doesn’t look like its hair anymore.

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In December 2011, I found a cool wine holder at a thrift shop and decided to use it as a planter.  At that time, I put together an arrangement using Aeoniums, Sedums, Sempervivums, and a Senecio in a wine glass.  It was well received and made it to a few shows, and in a way I’m glad it wasn’t sold.  After a little more than a year, the Aeoniums grew so huge and took over the planter.  They were moved and the wine holder stood empty for a few months.

wine holder

In these past three years, I’ve learned more about succulent arrangements and I would always like to continue to learn and improve.  Last November, I took out the wine holder and filled it with new succulents.  Four months later, it still looks pretty good ; )RBG & Anna's 174

Yes, gardening unexpectedly has become a great passion, especially with succulents.  As many of my succulent fanatical friends know, it is so therapeutic and rewarding.

V is for Valentine

Imagefrom http://www.rootedinsucculents.com

Are you looking for something different for your loved ones?  The traditional romantic gifts are roses, chocolate, wine, some blings, and you can never go wrong with those.  But how about showing your love with succulents?  They are low maintenance, unique and beautiful, as affordable as a dozen of roses, but most of all they can last!  The favorite group that I’ve joined in facebook is the Succulent Fanatics, where we can share our experiences, knowledge, designs, and creations with succulents.  I’m just amazed with the creativity that some of my facebook friends came up with.

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from http://www.legardendesign.com/

Linda Estrin does beautiful succulent floral arrangements, and here’s just 1 example of her work.  Take a look at her website for more eye candy!

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from http://ChrisEmmert.com

I just have to include these cool mosaic rocks.  Not succulents, but I can see one accompanying a succulent dish garden.  They look like chocolates too, with no calories.

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from http://www.melted-bottle.com

The wine bottles are cut and melted by Donna Taylor.  I just love the idea of reusing and repurposing, and these are perfect for succulents. Not into succulents yet?  Some of the bottles are turned into serving dish too, which make another wonderful gift.

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Here’s one that I made to wish all of you a HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

 

Adding Charms on Hypertufa Pots, part 2

A few days ago, I read some comments on a Facebook group that I follow, Hypertufa Fan Club.  It’s a great site for information where we can share our experiences and ideas, also to show off our work.   Comments that caught my eyes are that many people take their pots out of the mold only after 24 to 48 hours, especially if they want to carve or brush the pots for texture.  The planters would still be soft enough to be carved easily but able to retain the shape. Usually I wait between a week to 10 days before I do that.  Why?  Because someone I know took it out after a day and the pot cracked in two.  Now I assume that she didn’t put it inside a plastic bag, so the drying was too fast and made it more brittle.

I planned to take them out on Sunday, but after reading the posts, ( 4 days after I made the pots) I took them out on Thursday.  And sure enough, they were already set!  Good thing too, because one of the hardest part about making tufa pots is the waiting!

tufa out of mold

Something that I haven’t done before is wire-brushing them so they look more like stones.  If I had unmold them after 2 days, they should be easier and softer to brush, so next time I will try that.

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I like the way the color turns out too.  But for now, they are back in the plastic bags to cure further.  7 pots were made, and I’m happy with how they look.

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oval tufa

I think the charms on the little pots add a special touch, they can be ideas to fit a theme of bridal or baby shower decorations and favors, or any events.  They can reflect someone’s personality and what that person enjoys.

After about a month, they should be ready!  The last steps before planting are to drill drainage holes and soak or rinse them well.   So far, I’ve done about 6 batches of hypertufa pots,  each time I try something different and it continues to be a learning process.  That’s the fun part and I already look forward to making more!

Transforming Old TVs to Gardens

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Do you have old boxy TV? I find that now days with the flat screens, many have been discarding their old ones.  In my block alone, I’ve picked up 2 TV boxes.  When we were about to get rid of our master bedroom TV last summer, I noticed that it had vents underneath.  As a gardener, I thought, “Drainage!” All old TVs have them on the bottom, and inspired by succulents planted on wood frames, they can easily be turned into vertical gardens. As you can see, ours got repurposed.  This was the first one that I did last July.

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If you want to take the tv apart and get rid of the inside, it’s best to bring it to an e-waste station.  I used to ask my older son to do it, boxed up the remains and brought them over to e-waste.  The guy there was shocked and freaked me out of the potential danger!  I was also told that they take TVs apart anyway, so they would be happy to give me back the frame.

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I wish I had taken more pictures of the process, but I did remember to take some.  In August, I did another one that I picked up at a neighbor’s driveway.  This was a family colaboration!  We got the backing from Tap Plastic, where I brought the frame and they just cut the piece on site.  My husband and son then screwed the backing using the same screws from the old back, and attach the chicken wire screen.

Well, I then just filled the inside with soil mixed with lots of pumice, cut some dried palm bracts that fell on our side yard to help fill the frame, and had fun planting.  To keep the soil in place, I just stuffed the screen with sphagnum moss.

It’s almost 7 months later, and both TVs are my favorite in the garden!  I’ve learned which plants do well in those verticals and which don’t.  I still have 1 more TV that I can turn into a garden, and when that’s done, we’d have more TV outside than inside 🙂  That’s fine with me, or I just might sell one 🙂

This was in August 2013

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 Today (the Echeveria irish mint, Senecio haworthii, the kitten ears, the pearls and especially the Aeoniums are thriving!)

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I just love to sit in the garden, read a book while having a cup of tea and look up at my TVs!

Adding Charms on Hypertufa Pots, part 1

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I’ve enjoyed following some blogs and have learned so much from them.  Now I’m going to try to do 1!  One of my hobbies is gardening, especially with succulents, and I’ve been making pots for them.  There are many great tutorials on how to make hypertufa planters, so now I’m just going to share a simple trick of adding the inserts and accents.

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First, choose the charms that you’d like to add, they can be from old jewelry, metal stickers, tiles, and many possibilities!  Then simply attach blue tapes on the face of the charms, and use a double tape or a dab of glue to attach them to the molds (just a dab, you want the pot to come out easily).  I used to just put the charms to the molds directly, but found that it can be a pain “digging” them out later on.  With the tape, you still have to do some digging, but not as bad.

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For this batch, I used 4 pints each of peatmoss, perlite, and Portland cement.  You see the scoop on the right?  That is a pint!  First, I screened the peatmoss and smoothen it.  A smaller screen would be better, because as you can see, a lot of the bigger pieces went through.

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One more thing that I haven’t tried before, is adding the cement color.  Usually I just paint the cured tufas with acrylic, but this time I’d like to find out how this turns out.  I added 3 tablespoons of the color to my mix before adding water.  Slowly add water to the mixture (about 4 pints also), and mix till it looks like cottage cheese.

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After spraying the molds with no-stick cooking oil, start molding them.  The key is press, press, press, like a massage.  The 4 pint ratio of this batch made 4 small pots and 3 medium ones.  Now it’s time for them to cure.  The best way is to dry slowly, that’s why I put them inside the plastic bags.  From my previous batches, it’s neat to see that even after a week, condensation still happens inside the bags. I just did this yesterday, so I’m going to leave them tucked inside the garage for another week.  It’s ok to take a peek and spray water occasionally.  So if you would like to see what happens, I’m going to take them out of the mold next Sunday, Feb.9th., and will share with you.