At the start of the year, I decided that I would take a pause from gardening until my Tiny House was built. As the tiny house study had increased, any planned gardening kept getting put on the back burner. I was constantly neglecting my plants and unless my father kindly intervened they often became sickly and died or failed to crop. I concluded that until I could commit myself on a far more regular basis, I had to take a break.

Though it has been a relief to be free of the heavy cloud of guilt that I had been carrying, when the sun is shining or I am tired of being stuck indoors I do miss being in the garden greatly. This week was my birthday so I took a few days off from ‘Tiny Housing’ to just enjoy myself, with time up my sleeve it presented the perfect opportunity to check in with my beloved succulents.

You may remember that I had originally set out to create a succulent reef.  I attempted to do this by making concrete pots that looked like coral beds, carving (1) little wooden fish and collecting only succulents that looked like they could be found in the depths of the ocean (which to be honest, is the majority.) As I never actually got around to posting about this project, I have included a few progress snaps from 2015 – 2017.

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I created the pots using a blend of sand, cement and polystyrene balls, to reduce weight and add lumpiness. My first attempt (a large blueish pot speckled in red) was made using a chicken wire and fibreglass frame. I realised this wasn’t necessary and began moulding them in brick layers sand, which made life easier. The pots were painted with spray paint, and this actually lasted pretty well.  I began to spray the rims with spray foam for a more ocean-like effect. Most of the succulents have actually been repotted a number of times- if a plant wasn’t doing well in one, I would move it to another, and sometimes another, until they began to thrive.

Photo 9. October 2015 & Photo 12. February 2017

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What I appreciate about succulents is how hardy and forgiving they can be and in true form when I checked in this morning, after months of abandonment, I wasn’t faced with too many disappointments.

I had a play around, removing one or two plants which sadly, but not surprisingly hadn’t survived the months of neglect, but overall most of them were looking not too shabby. The collection sits just under the house awning, but most of the reef is exposed to the rain- which could explain the higher survival rate. (The ones who had died were tucked at the back and had dried themselves out completely). I will note though a couple of the cacti are suffering the opposite, completely waterlogged in their poorly draining pots. I have set these aside out of the rain and hope they may still recover.

I have included some snapshots of today’s work, after I had removed the dead and rearranged the living. It is looking less reef-like than it has in the past due, mainly due to the lack of flowers, overall green-ness of them all and common garden pots used after I lost the interest for ‘sea rock’ making.

Happy with today’s dip back into gardening I plan to at least check on the water levels of the succulents each week and hopefully come the new year I can begin to reinvest myself with the addition of a few new plants.

July 2018
July 2018
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Hand whittled fish.
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I like this plant a lot, has a very coral-like vibe. It is a shame I did not keep record of the species.
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One of the fancier, more recent additions.
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A real champion, this one has come back from the brink of death a number of times.
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The spray foam has kept it’s form well, only losing it’s shine.
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So this may be a tad dead- a real shame as it’s one of the funkier plants.
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I received this for Christmas three years ago and it nearly always seems to be in bloom.
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I had to plant the cacti together as they have different demands to the succulents; the middle one is not faring too well, which is a real shame.

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One of my first succulents, this one produces lovely yellow and pink flowers and changes colour to a pale purple.
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A very traditional succulent.
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A close up of one of my pots- I really like that weird dead looking plant- funnily enough it looks better than when I bought it.
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A splash of much-needed colour- originally far too bright, the orange has settled to a far more realistic shade.
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One of the colour changing additions.
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Flowers! (& in winter!)
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Looking pretty healthy, if a little less reef like.

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