Monday, June 18, 2012

I squee for sedums.

The previous owners of my house, though they loved filth and porn, really hated nature.  They destroyed a large majority of my back yard because fuck it, we hate grass so let's pave it and then put astroturf over it all!  Sounds reasonable.

So 85% of my back yard is asphalt or patio.  It's not a concrete jungle it's a concrete river.  Of ugly.  So when I decided to jazz up ye olde ModSauce patio I really wanted to include some planters of green things to make it seem somewhat hospitable for human habitation. 

This is problematic because I want my patio to have a container garden that looks like this:
But I have the money and gardening skillz to make it look like this:

Stolen from this lovely family's vacation photos.
I needed help.  I needed a black thumb intervention.  

Fortunately my friend and local blogger Dava Stewart of Smiling Tree Writing hooked me up with a local plant lady of extreme knowledge and compassionate expertise: Belle of Green Thumbs Galore.

Fun fact: she's about a mile from the MS Ranch.  It was destiny!

I emailed her my about project, my skill level and added a desperate plea for help and we set up a black thumb intervention date at her nursery.  Which is this:
Quick and dirty iPhone photos so deal.
Also known as her backyard.  That also looks like this:

And this:

With a little of this:
Just like your backyard, I'm sure.  Greenhouse and all.

How bout some of this? 
Sure, just rub it in!

Most of her business is through their website which is interesting because I didn't really know you could mail plants.  I assumed they were all sensitive delicate creatures of infinite suffering based on my personal experiences with them.  

So I asked her how in the hell you actually mail plants.  She said, "In a box."


Well-played, Belle.  Let's be best friends. I'm already learning so much.  

I knew I wanted something succulenty (already learning proper gardening terminology) and sculptural because I AM a design blogger of course.  I didn't know how to explain that to her but I didn't even need to because she had this in her nursery: 
and is super plant smart. She's the plant whisperer.  Or maybe she's the green-challenged idiot whisperer...  For her sake, let's go with the first one.

I know a very small bit about putting together color and textures (see part above about being a fancy design blogger) but not really when it comes to things that are alive.  She helped show me how plants work together and explained to me about making a group that has something tall, something spreading and something trailing.  

Or was it something tumbling and something stumbling?  Or was I supposed to have a shower and a grower...?  Let's go with the first one. 

I should have taken better notes.

But she put together some really beautiful things for me that were exactly what I wanted even though I didn't know that I wanted them.
*FIST PUMP*  Since I'm nurture-challenged we started with a small selection to see what I do well with and I can always divide them later. If they survive...  Dun dun duuunnnnn!!

So I played around at home and put these guys together:
Yay!  I made plant things!  Now those pillows aren't mocking me with their fake flora.

Hey is that a LANTERN?!
The planters were a smattering of TJ Maxx and junk store finds.  Who DOESN'T need brass on their patio, amiright???!!  The black hexagon is actually the metal base for a tea dispenser that I drilled some holes in for drainage.  It's called upcycling, y'all.  Southern saucy style.

So far everything is alive and well!  Except for the moss in the top center.  When I went to my mountain lovefest vacation, it threw in the towel.  Farewell, friend.  We barely knew ye.

These dudes seem happy.  Waiting on that tiny sedum to hit puberty (after I gave it a rough childhood) but I'm patient.

Purple dude is appreciative of brass and I am appreciative of him.  

This is my favorite planter and not only because it dispensed sweet tea in its former life.  All the plants - um... coral bells, a little hen and chicks action and some bright green sedum thing that had yellow flowers (?) - are all super chummy and not dead and that makes me squee long time.

Obviously you should contact Green Thumbs Galore if you need information because I have no idea what the name of these things are.  After you find out you should tell me.

Pardon my gratuitous planter porn but I'm so proud these things have survived - nay, THRIVED - this long.  

On the opposite side of the furniture I have another grouping to further titillate your green senses:
Ok it's a little weird-looking right here, I'll give you that.  The empty brass planter was an ice chest during the patio partio and I just haven't moved it.  All the brass came as a set so whatareyagonnado.  I swear no more brass though.

But look at the plants!
We've got a nice fern that will grow big and ferny and is sharing a brassy apartment with those bright green things again.  A bit more moss but like its cousin across the patio, it didn't like my 'live and let die' plant philosophy.

Probably should have planted that hen and her chicks elsewhere.  Tight squeeze.

Look!  Another brass planter AND A LANTERN!  Yay for hens and chicks because I know what those are now!

Overall I'm very happy with my maiden voyage into container land because this shit is hard for me, y'all!  Most everything is doing well and I've learned a lot about what I'm good at (inspiring other people to want to help me) and what I'm not good at (moss).  From here things can only go up!  Literally, I need some taller things come next year.  I definitely need a grower.

Now we just have to hope that hope everything survives the hell that is our August but I'm also hoping I survive it too.  I get really cranky and I'm pretty sure plants don't respond well to verbal abuse.

Regardless of my future foul mouth, thank you to Green Thumbs Galore for their generous spirit and expertise.  They may have turned my black thumb into a slightly less black thumb.  I swear I saw hints of olive green yesterday as I was watering BUT NOT OVERWATERING!  *eyebrow wiggle*  

Should anyone have plant needs, I know they would be happy to help any other fellow members of the black thumb brigade or even normal green thumb people no matter what zone you live in.  (I live in the party zone if you were wondering).

You can even get plants mailed straight to you.  

In a box.


  1. Thanks for the mention. And your container gardens look...saucy.

    1. That's all I could have hoped for. Thanks for your help! ; )

  2. You're doing it, you're really really doing it :) Seriously, it's looking really good. If you're looking for height, a good way to cheat is with a plant stand, or some cool up-cycled boxes, or whatever. Also you can get huge planters at Southeastern Salvage, but fill them with empty plastic bottles so you don't have to buy a ton of dirt.

    1. It's like I'm an actual gardener or something! Thanks - glad to know a real gardener approves.

      Good idea about Southeastern Salvage! Now that I have a vague idea about the direction I'm going it'll be easier to add to the planter collection. (And plastic bottle collection) ; )

  3. I am dying for those brass planters. Where did you find them??

    1. Thanks Marianne! I found them at a salvage place locally. They were the kind that had plastic plants in them from banks in the '80s. I had to drill some holes in the bottom of them too but I think they're fun.

      So be on the lookout for ugly plastic trees and hope they have a good planter at the bottom!

  4. Good Job!!!!!

    aka deb

    1. Thanks! I know you have gardening skills so I'm happy to gain approval from the masters. Now I try for bigger things like the trees you suggested. NOTHING CAN STOP ME!

  5. "something tall, something spreading and something trailing"

    Thriller, filler, & spiller.

    1. YES! That's what it was! Thank you. I definitely should have taken better notes.

      Thriller, filler and spiller also makes a container garden so sexy.

  6. Hi Ms. Sauce,

    That purple guy is Heuchura; also known as coralbells.

    They come in the purple kind that you have; but also green; green and white and a caramel color....I have them all in my planter boxes (I live in ATL) and they are virtually unkillable.

    I cut off those sad looking little flower stalks though...I'm just in it for the foliage :)

    1. I thought it was coral bells but wasn't sure! Thank you for confirming and providing the real sciencey name. ; )

      Good to know about your experience with them (HOLLA ATL!) - I liked the sad-looking flower stalks because I thought they added height... maybe not. ; )

      Thanks for your input and welcome to the Sauce!