Paula Bailey

June 10, 2013

Vertical and vibrant garden

This is probably going to be my last garden blog post for a little while as the creative phase is pretty much over for this year. Now I’m just going to sit back and enjoy it.

At the weekend I finally lifted the pallet garden into place. My goodness it was heavy! My daughter and I just about managed to walk it up to the wall and we leaned it there at a slight angle. It looks great!

The pallet leans at a slight angle to try to reduce fall-out, and so that it won’t pitch forwards and fall (scary thought).

A few flowers are already emerging – some marguerites, marigolds and another yellow flower I have lost the card for so can’t remember what it’s called.

The gaps between the plants are larger than they could have been – lesson learned for next year. That’s a solar light and there are two more at the top. There are also petunias, ageratum, alyssum, lobelia, dianthus, geraniums and verbena in there.

I’ve watered it twice since it was lifted into place and I’m noticing some soil erosion so I’m being as careful as I can be. If I’d stuffed the plants in more tightly as I should have done (didn’t read the instructions as I went along – stuffed them in along the top and spaced them elsewhere) this would be reduced. Still, they should hold and I can keep an eye on them.

The plants will have to change direction now, having been moved 90 degrees.

Most of the flowers are starting to emerge – the orange and yellow ones are leading at the moment.

Elsewhere in the garden, some of the verbena and lobelia are venturing into bloom, and several of my rescuelings (50p bargains from the ‘almost dead’ shelf at the garden centre) from previous years are maturing nicely. I have two lovely lavenders, a sage that’s flowering now, and various trailing flowers which will come back year after year.

A lavender rescued from near death two years ago provides some maturity.

Verbena, marigold and the one whose name I can’t remember.

I bought loads and loads of lobelia – they’re one of my favourites and they flower for months. They should be out this week.

Tiny lobelia provide wonderful sprinklings of colour – and they’re beautiful close up too. This was the only one out on Sunday.

Alyssum growing in various places – including a boot-shaped pot that got smashed in the wind last year. The way this plant grows quite suits the uneven shape.

While the pallet was settling down after the shock of its 90 degree shift, I got to work painting the terracotta troughs I hadn’t had time to do last weekend. Again I very quickly painted decorations – this time using the twisted pattern moulded into the shape of the troughs. They don’t bear close inspection but they really brighten up the corner.

Simply mixing up the colours makes everything go together. There are potatoes growing in the jute bag you can just see on the other side of the bench.

And the bench finally got its facelift. For this I used wood preservative paint (Cuprinol Garden Shades – Iris). I’ve used this colour elsewhere in the garden, on the frames of some of the mirrors I have around the place.

So another afternoon’s work with striking results. Even though I won’t be doing a garden blog for a while, I will keep you updated as the flowers come out and post some photos of the pallet in full bloom.

I’d love to see your garden creations, and if you’ve made a pallet garden I’m eager to hear your maintenance tips. I’m definitely keen to do this again next year. So do leave a comment and why not sign up to hear about updates as soon as they’re posted.

A new bright look for a previously neglected corner of the garden


May 27, 2013

Upright pallet garden

My Pinterest ‘Garden’ board has been brimming with pictures of clever pallet gardens and I’ve been dying to make one for ages. Today I did just that.

A couple of months ago I took delivery of a settee and sofabed which arrived on a sturdy pallet, on the kerbside. I was almost as excited about the pallet as I was about the furniture. They took some time and effort to assemble so the pallet project was put on hold for a while.

It’s been propped up in the garden all that time and I did get as far as buying a few lobelia trays but then … well you know how it is sometimes, other things take priority. Plus the weather has been very wet lately.

There are a lot of guidelines online for pallet gardens. I followed this one from Life on the Balcony because it had good clear instructions, and good photos. I did deviate from the instructions from time to time, so the following is my own experience of putting together a pallet garden.

First confession is that I didn’t sand anything down. I just went for it.

I’m not sure what landscape fabric is, and I couldn’t find any at our local garden centre chain so I bought a small tarpaulin (3m x 2m – bigger than I needed but it only cost £7). I stapled it across what would become the bottom, and worked my way around the frame, stapling, folding and tucking as I went. I allowed some overlap to the front of the pallet too – just so the whole thing was secure.

Neat hospital corners.

The top.

As I had a lot of tarpaulin I was able to double back at the bottom where I was worried the weight of soil would accumulate.

I went mad with the staples – better safe than sorry. There were only three planks across the back – top, bottom and middle – so I did as much as I could there.

Sizes will vary of course. The tutorial I followed suggested two bags of potting compost. I had bought three 60 litre bags. I’d also bought enough bedding plants to cover a small field. I went for what they had and chose things I thought wouldn’t get too big. I’m no gardener so I might get a few surprises.

I started by stuffing plants along the top of the pallet. Very random, but trying to keep taller plants to the back. I followed the instruction to jam them all in.

I can’t remember everything that went in here but there were lobelia, alyssum, geranium, verbena, petunia …

… marguerites, marigold, more lobelia (upright and trailing) and a few I’ve forgotten the names of – all crammed in tightly at the top.

I then poured in two of the bags of potting compost and started planting.

Pallet gardens take a lot of soil or compost.

I love lobelia so the second row down was all trailing lobelia – a mix of colours according to the label. After that I went random with everything I had bought (though no more lobelia except one or two fillers – they will go elsewhere in the garden as they flowered ‘forever’ last summer).

The tutorial suggested buying six plants for each opening but I think their pallet was smaller than mine. However, even though they said to cram the plants in as tightly as the top, I did leave some gaps. I might regret this when I lift the pallet but we shall see. I have enough plants to plug any gaps if necessary and the upright lobelia could do well here.

I randomly assigned six plants to each opening. Some plants had more complex root structures and therefore had wider spaces to occupy.

Working from the top down meant that I was able to pack the compost ‘upwards’ as I completed each row. Be careful to stuff compost into the sides and don’t forget the space where the central bar is. I hope I didn’t leave too many gaps or loose areas.

And that was that for today. Long and tiring work, so make sure you have plenty of time – and don’t forget to look after your back as you work. I used two and a half 60 litre sacks of potting compost in the end – this will depend on how big your pallet is of course.

All planted up – those gaps might need filling too.

I’m going to do my best to be patient and wait the two weeks before lifting it into place. Hopefully the regular watering will show any spaces that could do with being filled by more plants, and the roots will begin to form a structure to hold it all together.

All that remained to do was give it a good drink and put some sticks in to try to prevent my cat Bob from lying down on it. That, for now, is my biggest worry.

It just needs to settle in for two weeks and then it can be lifted into place against the wall.

Have you made one of these? Do you have any hints and tips to share – I’d love to hear from you.

I will post an update once the pallet has been raised to vertical – why not sign up to hear about updates as soon as they’re posted.




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