The Concrete Chronicles, part VII: Climbing

A wall-mounted planter of climbing nasturtium and makeshift twine trellis will offer a vertical feature on an otherwise drab patio wall. Photo by Rachel Polaniec

With the railing boxes complete, it was time to turn the spotlight on the walls ... the barren, barren walls. Also made of concrete or brick, they were in need of some TLC, ASAP. Last year I took advantage of a clearance sale at Petitti's and got a great deal on two black metal planters. They have the option of using on a railing or a wall, and I used one for the stage left railing already. I planted it with snapdragons, ivy, celosia (cockcomb) and a little ground cover plant whose name I forgot but it was just so cute I had to have it (there's more than one reason to buy a plant).

The other I decided to mount on the stage right wall, with the intention of growing climbing nasturtium up it. Said wall is cement, so I used a masonry drill bit, which are available at hardware stores. I find it easiest to make a smaller starter hole and then increase the size of the drill bit until I have the proper hole circumference, as it does take longer to drill through cement than wood!

It's also necessary to use a dowel or screw anchor with the screw when working in masonry, as it is brittle and unable to support the screw by itself. I was fortunate to have the proper sized dowels come with the screws for the planter, but they are also sold together in hardware stores, or have measurements included on the packaging for easy mix-and-matching.

After making the holes, placing the dowels and adding the screws, I mounted the planter to the wall, and it looked and held remarkably well. I made three small holes at the top of the wall, fitted them with small nails and strung some twine from the planter to the nails to provide a makeshift trellis/support for the climbing nasturtium vines.

I used coconut fiber liners for both my metal planters; they came with them, but over the winter I used them as a sort of shield for my plants and they also ended up hosting a little critter that decided to make a nest in them and help itself to my birdseed. They being ruined, I bought replacements from both Jo-Ann's and Walmart. The one from Jo-Ann fit the best, while I ended up needing two of the same length from Walmart and doubling them up to fit width-wise. However, both of them were cheaper then they were at Petitti's, so I was willing to make the trade off.

Into the planter went the old soil/new soil mix, and I put a manure-and-humus mixture in as well, which I also plan on adding to the rest of my pots as a natural fertilizer. The climbing nasturtium seeds I planted in the back, celosia in the middle and vinca vine in the front; I like the way it hangs down and adds interest to the planter as a whole. The finishing layer of mulch and a nice long drink ended the planting process. Now I'm just waiting for the seeds to sprout and start to send their long tendrils up, so I can train them to climb up the wall.

It's always a good idea to add as much interest to one's garden as is possible, and one way to do so is to have a vertical feature, something to draw the eye up. Another is the water feature, but that, my friends, is for another day.

Rachel Polaniec

I live in Westlake with my husband and our two sons. I work part time at Kohl's, and full-time at home. In my free time I like to read, write, and cook. My family and I take part in War of 1812 reenactments throughout the summer. My lofty dreams are of traveling abroad, visiting the great museums, and drinking all the coffee. For now I content myself with antiquing and Keurig sampler packs.

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Volume 5, Issue 14, Posted 9:48 AM, 07.09.2013