Vertical Succulent Garden

How to create a sturdy base for a vertical succulent gardenThis weekend I attended a class on vertical succulent gardening at the Dallas Arboretum. I don’t think I would have figured out how to create a structure strong enough to support sideways plants and soil, so I was pretty excited to have an expert walk me through step-by-step. And I haven’t yet installed my garden along a wall, but when I turn it sideways, it seems to stay in place pretty well.

We started with the following materials:

  • Wooden Frame (our instructor made his own out of fence wood)
  • Flat piece of wood cut to the size of your frame
  • Plastic fence netting (I’ve also seen chicken wire used)
  • Black mesh fabric
  • Screws
  • Staple gun
  • Light soil suitable for succulents (our instructed recommended this soil mixed with crushed shells)
  • Succulent plants

 Here are the steps we followed:

Vertical Succulent Garden

Step 1: To create a strong framework, we cut the plastic netting and black mesh into rectangles that were slightly larger than the size of our frames. We pressed the plastic netting into the frame and stapled it along the inside of the frame; we repeated this step with the mesh fabric and trimmed both so that there wasn’t any extra coming out of the frame.

Step 2: Fill the frame with soil. We used a mix of lightweight soil and crushed shells. While sand is often mixed into soil for succulents, our instructor cautioned against this because it adds extra weight to the structure.

Step 3: Secure the flat piece of wood to the frame using screws.

Step 4: Once the framework was complete, we selected our succulents and arranged our design by setting the plants on top of the grid before we started planting.

Step 5: To plant each succulent, we cut a small square out of the netting and mesh – cutting an almost 2-inch square per 3 inch plant. Inserting each plant into the grid was the hardest part. We had to push all of the soil in the frame out of the way and then push the plant in, using a pencil to help push the base of the plant further into the soil.

This is my final garden:

How to create a sturdy base for a vertical succulent garden

Frozen Castle

Create a Frozen-themed ice castle. A great outdoor summer activity.

Like every six-year-old girl at the moment, Jenna loves the movie Frozen. When I saw this ice sculpture idea recently, I knew we had to try it out.

It takes a bit of advance preparation, but it was well worth the effort. We started on Saturday by mixing water and food coloring to create different shades of blue, pink and purple – something that turned out to be great fun in itself. We poured the water into a variety of containers, added a sprinkle of glitter and placed the containers in the freezer to create a large batch of ice crystals - or, as Jenna calls them, fractals.

On Sunday, we took all of our ice outside and started stacking the pieces together to create a castle. We used a little bit of water to help the cubes stick together. It had rained most of the day and the temperature had cooled to the 70s, making this the perfect summer day for building an ice castle.

Create a Frozen-themed ice castle. A great outdoor summer activity.

Favorite Places: Rory Meyers Children’s Garden

A Visit to the Rory Meyers Children's Garden at the Dallas ArboretumSince moving to the DFW area several years ago, the Dallas Arboretum has been one of my favorite local places to visit. Last fall, they opened the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden and now it’s one of Jason and Jenna’s favorites too. The garden is science-focused, with each of the indoor and outdoor stations featuring interactive activities around common themes, like energy, space and geology. We visited this weekend and arrived just after opening. We had the entire park nearly to ourselves!

Here are (more than just) a few of my favorite pictures – the gardens are so beautiful it’s hard to narrow down all of the photos I took.

A Visit to the Rory Meyers Children's Garden at the Dallas Arboretum

A Visit to the Rory Meyers Children's Garden at the Dallas Arboretum

 

Favorite Places: Rory Meyers Children's Garden

Favorite Places: Rory Meyers Children's Garden

 

Favorite Places: Rory Meyers Children's Garden

Camp Cinderella: Part 2

Camp Cinderella: Activities for a Cinderella-Inspired Camping Party for Children

When Jenna first suggested a camping and Cinderella themed party, I immediately loved the idea. I wasn’t exactly sure how to pull it off, but I knew it would be fun to try. Jenna had a few requests – like wanting to dress up like princesses and wanting to make necklaces - so that was my starting point and I added on from there.

Here’s what a day at Camp Cinderella turned out to be:
Camp Cinderella activities
When guests arrived, they entered into the ‘costume area where they could gear up with all of the necessary clothing and equipment for the day (capes, tutus, sunglasses, tiaras, etc.).
Camp Cinderella: Activities for a Cinderella-Inspired Camping Party for Children
After getting dressed up, the guests moved out to the backyard where they could choose from our ‘camp activities.’

Camp Cinderella Activities

Camp activities included:

  • Archery – we had a couple of sets of the Brave archery bow and arrows and a hula hoop hanging from a tree to serve as the target.
  • Horse Riding – it doesn’t get much better than a pink pony with lots of sparkles galloping through your yard.
  • Necklace-Making
  • Sword Fighting
  • S’mores – see Part 1 for the camp menu
  • Tent “Clean-Up” – I purchased these castle tents and then decided at the last minute to add a few toy brooms so that the kids could clean their castles, just as Cinderella was required to do before going to the ball.
  • Camp Photos - I purchased a frame at Michaels, spray painted it Cinderella blue and suspended it from the ceiling using pink tulle. I added some tulle along the wall behind it for an easy photo opp set-up.

I think the highlight, at least for Jenna, was definitely the horse. There’s something pretty magical about a sparkly pink pony wandering around in your yard.

camp-horse

Camp Cinderella - Pink Horse

 

 

For details about the camp food, see Camp Cinderella: Part 1.

 

Camp Cinderella: Part 1

Camp Cinderella: A Princess-Inspired Camping Birthday Party

My daughter requested a “Cinderella and Camping” party to celebrate her 6th birthday. It was an interesting mix of princess girliness with outdoorsy fun, and Jenna and I had a great time thinking up ways to combine the themes. In the end, our backyard was filled with girls in tutus, boys wielding swords, a bonfire and a glittery pink horse. I’m hoping we look back on this one as the year mom nailed it! Happy Birthday, Jenna!

Today I’m sharing our camp menu:

Enchanted Trail Mix
Camp Cinderella: A Princess-Inspired Camping Party

We set up a create-your-own-trail-mix bar for party guests to assemble their own camping snack. The bar included:

  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Granola
  • Chocolate-covered almonds
  • Cranberries
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Cashews
  • Pink, blue and white M&Ms
Cinderella S’mores
Camp Cinderella: A Princess-Inspired Camping Party

No camping adventure would be complete without s’mores! Despite 80 degrees temperatures, all of our campers were up for sitting around a camp fire, roasting pink and white marshmallows and making traditional s’mores. I purchased these extra long roasting skewers to keep everyone a good distance from the heat.

Cake and Princess Punch

Camp Cinderella: A Princess-Inspired Camping Party

After making a practice cake a few weeks ago and experimenting with marshmallow fondant and natural dyes, I ended up purchasing two cakes and decorating them myself with pre-made fondant. For drinks, we served strawberry lemonade (aka Princess Punch).

For more party details, see Camp Cinderella: Part 2

 

Birthday Inspiration: Camp Cinderella

 

Birthday Party inspiration for my daughter's "Cinderella Camping" themed party.

Jenna loves planning her birthday parties, and this year’s celebration of turning 6 is no exception. She suggested a “Cinderella Camping” party, and I’ve had a great time thinking up ways to merge two seemingly opposite ends of the party theme spectrum. I won’t go into detail now but the mood board above gives quite a few clues. Will there be a pink-maned horse? Yes, yes there will. More pics after the party!

Image sources: Garland / Toy binoculars / Tiara / Pink Bow and Arrow Set / Castle Tent / Tutu

Guest Post: Decorating with Succulents

Decorating with succulents: Trends to try this spring

Since moving into our new home, I’ve had an ‘outdoors in’ approach to decorating. This is especially true in our formal living room, where an indoor garden of greenery has emerged over the past few months. Today, in my Forever Home series on Modern Parents, Messy Kids, I’m sharing some ideas for incorporating plants, especially easy-to-care-for succulents, into your home decor.

Happy Easter

Despite lots of sickness in our family, we had a very nice holiday weekend. It was our first Easter in the new house, and the yard proved to be the perfect site for an egg hunt. Most years, Jason and Jenna quickly snatch up the eggs and count their bounty to see who won. This year, victory definitely went to the Easter bunny. J+J gave up after an extensive search of both the front and back yards, leaving at least 3 or 4 eggs to be found later in the day.

Here are a few more highlights from our weekend:

happy easter