Monday, June 7, 2010

Famous last words ...

I don't know about you, but I often take a look at something and think .... 'hmmm - that doesn't look too hard!'  Famous last words!  I often realize that things are harder than they look, but sometimes I am pleasantly surprised!

 A case in point - The Living Wreath Project 
When I visited the garden center early in the spring, I saw the living wreaths getting a nice start in the greenhouse.  They looked so pretty, but so pricey - $90 for a small wreath!  I looked at the kits to 'make your own living wreath' and decided that $45 for a make your own that didn't include plants was rather .. unreasonable!  I tucked that thought in the back of my brain until my June Better Homes and Gardens magazine came! Then I saw this:

 Ooooo! Aaaah!

Inspiration! I gathered my ingredients and began to plot strategy.  Sadly, I am an impatient gardener.  I know full well that they used cutting to make this wreath weeks before it was photographed. I know they took time to dip each cutting in rooting hormone before inserting it into the moist soil of the wreath, but I decided that that would take too long! I headed to the garden center for plants! Instant gratification - or in this case, plantification!

I found 6 packs of coleus for $2 each at Lowes, bought 5 and dug out an old metal wreath form from my crafting closet. I moistened a bag of sphagnum moss ($3), a half a bag of light potting soil, and tried to figure out how to hold it all together.  Since I would have to mortgage the house or sell the firstborn for copper wire, and paddle wire just rusts like crazy (marking up a nicely painted door - don't ask), I decided fishing line was my only choice. I stole borrowed that from my husband - keeper of the fishing tackle! My grand total - $16.

I lined the laundry room counter with plastic, made a circle of damp moss and plunked my recycled wire wreath form on top of the moss. I filled the wreath form with moist potting soil and began the process of bringing the moss up and around the dirt. 

I just gently went around and around with the spool of fishing line until it was all pretty cohesive.  It was a messy job, but didn't take long.  The fun part came next - I made holes with my fingers and began inserting my coleus here and there.  I added more moss as needed and just kept going around until it was filled out.

Much of the coleus is really too tall, but I will leave it flat wait and for a week or so while it settles into the soil before I give it a haircut - believe me, those plants have had enough trauma for one day. Watering this wreath involves a garbage can lid - I'll just fill the lid with water and let it soak for an hour when it gets dry. Hopefully in a few weeks it will fill out and look more wreath like.  I won't hang it up until the roots have had time to get established. Hopefully, I will have a lovely wreath in the not too distant future for an hour's work and very little $$$.  It would have taken less time if I had avoided a few mistakes, so I'll share those with you - just in case you're inspired by living wreaths too!

Lessons Learned the Hard Way
Living Wreath Tips
(so far)

  1. If you are thinking that sheet moss will work instead of  the sphagnum, you are in for a real mess.  It just crumbles when you try to roll it up around the soil. Messy and a waste of sheet moss - I am trying to dry it out to recycle it. Live and learn and than grab the sphagnum!
  2. If you steal fishing line from your tackle box for this project, give it a 'tug test'.  It's kind of heart breaking to get half way around the wreath and realize that the line is rotten!  Starting again for the third time is - not so much fun!
  3. Plants were harmed in the making of this wreath.  Because I am impatient and didn't want to wait for cuttings to root, I used the smallest plants I could find.  I still broke quite a few.  I used rooting hormone and tucked them in here and there to fill in gaps on the wreath but they may not come. I would say buy twice as much as you think you'll need.  I used 35 plants, and maimed about 7. I will plant them in the ground and they may come back, but that remains to be seen.
  4. Sphagnum moss stinks like an outhouse smells strongly when wet.  If you soak it overnight in your laundry room, your laundry room will smell pretty ripe by morning.  Even baking something won't mask the smell.  I'd advise putting it outside or in the shed while soaking, unless you like your children going around saying 'What IS that awful smell??'
Happy Gardening!

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  1. You are so creative!! Wow! i can't wait to see the results.

  2. I am so terrible about that same thing. I see something and think "I can make that" much as I craft and have owned handmade businesses, I KNOW how much time goes into things and sometimes get aggrivated at myself for cheating someone out of a little 4 for their creation.


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