Category Archives: Living Art

2018 Monterey County Fair Winners

It’s always fun to enter things in the county fair and see what everyone else is doing… here are this year’s winners.


The succulent side table won First Place AND Best of Show!!  It was our first year entering the Compost Challenge… took 1st place and won $50 prize money. The scarecrow competition was pretty tough in the ‘Shake your tail feathers’ theme catagory… but we took home 2nd place.

Blue ribbon winners

Checking out the exhibits at the fair every year is always so interesting. This was my first year with entries in the Santa Cruz County Fair… and brought home eight first place ribbons!  County fairs are always a fun competition and a chance to meet other plant lovers.

Succulent dish racks

I’ve always loved pretty dishes and hate to hide them away in the cupboard. This is a nice way to enjoy them every day. The salvaged dish racks are lined with moss and filled with potting soil and dishes. The succulents that I’ve chosen for these will stay compact and are meant to look like bubbles overflowing the sides. The silverware adds the finishing touch (and support for flowers).

Terrarium: How To

Recently, I accepted the challenge of planting a terrarium for another member of AHA… and I just love the container! With the recessed area in the middle of the stone-like pottery base, it’s obviously made to be a terrarium. Great design – it’s stable and will not tip over. So this is how it came together… First I filled up the recessed area with 3/8 inch gravel mixed with some activated filter carbon (to filter the air and water). Then added a piece of fiberglass screen cut to fit, (or you could use moss), to keep the soil above the gravel. Gathered together some ferns, mosses, pretty rocks, and one of the ceramic frogs that our friend Marcella makes. So perfect for this piece!  I mixed and moistened approximate equal parts peat moss and potting soil and shoveled in a few inches. Then carefully added the plants and arranged the rocks and frog.008_1As an experiment, I added a small tillandsia (air plant) and bromeliad…  just to see if they will thrive in this new little ecosystem.

Winning entries at the Monterey County Fair

010_1We’re excited that Nest Egg Gardens did so well at the fair this year! Participating is a fun way to showcase special projects and living art as well as a good way to meet other plant collectors.  We brought home the special award for Excellence in Horticulture (aka grand prize). Two entries won both first place and Best of Show for their category: 1) our big staghorn fern that looks like a moose and 2) the double brain cactus in the head vase pot. The succulent frame won 2nd place. The frame is one of the many works of art being donated by Aromas Artisans to the Art Raffle drawing November 22nd at the AHA Holiday Art Fair in Aromas.

Succulents – Living pictures

I got a few frames for free and thought I would try using them for succulents…. here’s how I did it: First I sprayed the inside edge with sealer to help it repel water and hopefully last longer. I built a box to fit using a composite decking board (it’s made with plastic and won’t rot).

Sprayed one side of a piece of hardware cloth black (the dark color blends in better than shiny metal until the plants cover it up) and stapled inside.

Lined the hardware cloth with a layer of moss and filled with potting soil (packed tightly).

Stapled some shade cloth and plastic fence over the potting soil into the back and added wires for hanging (either vertical or horizontal). Inserted succulent cuttings by poking roots into the moss with a skewer or stick. Lie flat and water regularly until the cuttings are rooted well before hanging.

Succulent camp kit

When I found this camping kit at a yard sale, I thought it would make a cute succulent display. Since it’s aluminum, it won’t rust and drilling holes in the bottom was easy. I really like how the cups hang off the side just like a punch bowl.

Succulent bouquets

When you cut back succulents that have grown tall and leggy, leave the stem long and you can use them just like flowers in a table arrangement. To extend the stems, you can use florist picks (green wooden sticks w/wire on one end) like the jade cutting on the left. It helps to use florist foam with water in a container to weigh it down and hold the stems securely, but a vase would work. Think out of the box because the cuttings really don’t even need water. The bouquet will last for weeks, sprouting roots and eventually growing into the florist foam. The cuttings can be planted in the ground or a pot at any time… or you can take more cuttings from the new growth and start again.

 

 

Succulent flowers

Succulents bloom at different times of the year… all year it seems. The small form of Crassula radicans starts blooming in January. Dainty white clover type flowers look even better when planted in full sun, because the leaves will be more red in color. Mature Jade plants and Aloe have been blooming since the end of November.

 

Succulent maintenance

It’s easy to refurbish succulent containers when they get overgrown and leggy. Almost as easy as arranging flowers in a vase.
Take cuttings of the succulents that you want to replant and set aside. They can be stored face up, in a shady spot, for up to a month.

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Trim up any succulents that are left or start fresh with new potting soil.  Poke holes in the soil and stick in the cuttings where desired.Water once a week and provide at least half sun. It only takes about a month for the succulents to fill back in nicely. This method also works for succulents in the ground. Take cuttings and stick them right back down in the soil. Dig out or trim the old stem… it will often come back with new growth.

Old fan blades and blooms

Mounted a couple of salvaged fan blades onto wood slabs that needed a little ‘something’. They fit in nicely on the greenhouse courtyard in the shade. The intent was to mount staghorn ferns on the slabs. But the wire guards are perfect for holding tillandsias (air plants).  Just in time for the first Epipyllum (orchid cactus) bloom of the season… just beautiful!

Projects: Succulent furniture

Found this metal vanity at a yard sale… and thought it would look great planted with succulents.


I attached a basket of wire to hold the moss and soil.

Planted with succulents and cuttings… along with a small side table. Parked under the shade cloth arbor, and watered once a week or so.

Two months later…

Succulent wreath ~ How to Part 2

The first step to making good succulent wreaths is growing the succulents that you intend to take cuttings from. When I prepare a wreath or other container, I start thinking about what kind of succulents to use, keeping in mind the plant’s needs (water/sun) and growth habit (tall/short). Pay attention to how your plants grow in different conditions to see what I mean. When working on wreaths, I stick with plants that will stay compact. Aeoniums are perfect with their rosette shapes and straight, sturdy stems. The cuttings should have a day or two to scar over and can sit for weeks.

Cover the area, laying on your favorite type of sedum and using a dowel, skewer or other pokey tool, make a hole and insert the cuttings around the frame. Starting with dry wreath forms helps keep the holes you poke open for the cuttings.The succulent cuttings secures the sedum in place where it can take root and fill in nicely.

Continue inserting succulent cuttings close together until the wreath form is full. Dunk into or drench with water. This plumps up the moss/soil and hold the cuttings tightly. Lay flat where it will get at least 2 or 3 hours sun (preferably morning or afternoon) and dunk/drench again when it’s dried out and feels light. We’ll check it again in two weeks…See How to Part 1 & Part 3

 

 

 

 

Succulent gift baskets

Gardeners share plants… that’s what they do. I recently made up some flower arrangements and a picnic basket for a house warming party. Who doesn’t love succulent cuttings? So pretty and versatile, it’s such an easy way to share plants. No need to keep them in water. They can sit around for weeks (roots start growing after 10 days). Easy to take care of… stick them in the ground and water once a week until they can get established. Mulch helps to conserve moisture. Share the wealth!

Sedum

This huge genus of flowering plants (Crassulaceae family) has over 600 species in the Northern Hemishere. Commonly aka stonecrops, they vary from tiny, to low and creeping, to shrub-sized plants. Drought tolerant, they store water in their leaves. They grow well with other succulents and I use them in almost all of my plantings… to fill in, plump up, and spill over the sides of containers.

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