California Report 3 (a bit delayed)

Father-daughter projects are among  the delightful things I do on my visits with my daughter and her family in San Diego. Mary Shannon, my very creative daughter, must spend the months when we are not there thinking up fun projects for us to do together when we do visit. We have pruned her roses, planted annuals, divided succulents, and started an herb garden in pots. Her busy schedule doesn’t leave her much time for gardening, so the list of “Daddy-do” chores tends to pile up until we arrive. One big project was the creation of a fountain out of a tall ceramic pot; I am pleased to report that it is still functioning by her patio after four years (and one replaced pump).

Our latest project was the creation of wall hanging succulent gardens. Mary Shannon found several old picture frames which we cleaned up to use to frame our gardens. The rest of the materials came from the local home improvement store.

succ3To add depth for the soil, we attached 1 x 1 strips to the back of the frame with screws. We then spray painted the exterior black.





succ4The next step was to cut a piece of half inch vinyl covered wire mesh to size and attach it to the inside of the frame with staples.




succ5This was covered with a layer of dried sphagnum moss, the frame was then filled with special soil for succulents, and a backing of 1/8 inch plywood, cut to size, was attached with screws. We used screws so that the backing could be removed more easily if necessary. Hanging attachments were added.


succ6We then proceeded to plant the succulents. Most of them were cuttings from plants already in Mary Shannon’s garden, but we did have fun visiting a local garden center to bring home some of the more exotic ones that caught her eye. Most of the succulants had stems that were small enough to fit through the mesh, but for a few larger ones, I used a pair of wire snips to enlarge the hole in the mesh. A wooden chopstick became the instrument of choice to open a hole in the moss and to tamp around a newly planted succulent.

Inserting the succulents into the frame became a design challenge as we attempted to build not only a physical garden but a meaningful and satisfying artistic creation as well.

I hope you will enjoy seeing one of our finished products:


The hanging gardens of Babylon this is not, but it was a challenging task, an opportunity to be creative, and share some precious time with my daughter. We are both happy with what we created. I’m looking forward to our next project; I wonder what it will be. I hope it will at least involve a visit or two to some of the lovely gardens in the San Diego area.

About johnvic8

John Viccellio retired after 24 years in the U. S. Navy and began to dig into gardening when he could finally land in one place. He completed the Master Gardener course in 1992 and has since designed and constructed two of his own gardens. He wrote a monthly garden column for ten years and was a regular contributor to Carolina Gardener magazine. John published his first book, Guess What's in My Garden!, in 2014. He lives in a retirement community in Matthews, NC.
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10 Responses to California Report 3 (a bit delayed)

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Your hanging garden turned out very lovely! What an unusual and beautiful way to bring the outdoors in!


  2. wOw-the dynamic duo. Let you guys loose and look what happens. It’s great.


  3. pbmgarden says:

    Wonderful to spend meaningful time with your daughter. This turned out great John. I appreciate that you included some step-by-step photos and instructions. Was just admiring a display of succulents at a store yesterday.


  4. johnvic8 says:

    Thanks, Susie. We have much fun doing these kinds of things together.


  5. Elizabeth Cunius says:

    I would like one!


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