Monthly Archives: November 2015

Vertical gardening

We’ve (or, I’ve, James is just going along for the ride) decided to try vertical gardening.

I’ve been pondering it a while now, at least a year. The problem is, it’s so darn expensive. Even a full DIY job, starting from scratch, can set you back a fair bit more than an average garden. So, when a casual trip to Flower Power had me discovering that one of the vertical garden set ups was on sale, I decided it must be a sign from the vertical garden Gods and I should immediately buy three packets. I later went back to buy two more.

So, I’m committed now. The garden is going up.

Let me start by explaining why we need a vertical garden. Because we’re on a lovely corner lot, and because the house design is the way it is, our outdoor area looks out onto our side neighbour’s house, and our side fence. Both the dining room and kitchen area look straight out onto the outdoor area, so it’s a significant vista in the house. Our main problem is that the fence is so damn ugly, I cannot stand to look at it any longer. See what I mean?

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Ugly fence.

And it will only get uglier as the fence ages and it turns grey.

I’ve been wracking my brain thinking of ways to “jazz” it up a little. Paint the fence? Some more outdoor furniture? Some pot plants? SOMETHING?

While pot plant’s aren’t a bad idea, the dogs are quite fond of knocking them over and eating the plants so that’s not going to work long term.

And so the vertical garden dream was born.

The system

The system I’ve brought is this one, from the Hills brand (the maker of the Hills Hoist clothesline). It normally retails for about $80 for a triple pack like this, but I scored mine for $50! Any saving is a good one though, cause you’re going to need more than one pack to make any kind of impact.

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Hills “I’m the expandable self-watering garden wall”.

Why do I like this vertical wall over the numerous others out there?

  • It’s less ugly. I know that the plants are supposed to grow over the top of them and you don’t end up seeing much of it but plants can take a while to establish and let’s face it, you’re going to see it at some point.
  • The pots inside are really easy to remove and plant. This also means I can pull the pots out and rearrange them if I need to.
  • It has a water reservoir, meaning I won’t be watering it every five minutes in summer and I won’t need to set up some complicated drip irrigation system. The reservoir also has a water level indicator on the outside of the unit so I can easily see when I need to refill.
  • The units connect together so if we stack two or three of the units together all of their water reservoirs line up and I only have to fill from the top one.
  • It looks pretty easy to install (for James to install).
  • When it’s on sale it’s cheaper than anything else of comparable size!
  • It has a three year warranty and it’s a brand I’ve used before and never had an issue with.
  • You can arrange it in more than one way.

Here’s what it looks like when you open the box. It’s pre-assembled and there isn’t much to do except attach it to the wall.

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Already assembled!

The plants

Picking the right kind of plant for any garden can be a bit hit and miss when you’re starting out. This vertical garden will not be any different!

I originally dreamed of a vertical herb/salad green scenario and imagined myself putting a few seeds into the pots and watching them grow. And then I realised I’d need to do that every year because the kinds of herbs I would want to grow won’t stay vibrant all year round. I’m also going to need something that can tolerate both full sun in summer but quite a bit of shade in winter.  So I went back to the drawing board. Google.

I was super excited to find that Ozbreed, another favourite of mine, has experimented with green walls with some of their plants and even tested some of those in Western Sydney! Check out this page for a handy table of plant’s they’ve tested, what conditions they do and don’t like, and some great pictures of their experiments in action. I’m sold.

I’ve seen a lot of the Ozbreed plant’s in my local Flower Power nursery but the Ozbreed website also gives some links on where you might find them online as well (often cheaper!).

As well as the new plants I’ll be buying, I’ve also decided to move some of the rock daisies out of the western facing front yard. Although they’re drought tolerant they’re not doing so well in the heat. They’re supposed to be fine in containers so I’ll add them to the vertical wall and see how it goes.

One thing I’ve had a bit of fun with today is the downloadable PNG images of the plants from the Ozbreed website. I’ve been able to lay them on top of a photo of the area and imagine what a successful green wall might look like. This is a fantastic option if you’re trying to imagine how a plant might look in your garden at home.

Green wall

Floating plants. Still need to use your imagination!

What about a change in the front yard?

Front yard

Considering grevillias.

Anyway, back the vertical gardens, James has already installed two of the sets for me. At the moment they just look like big black pots on the fence but I’ve ordered some plants and hopefully it looks much better in a few months time.

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Ready for planting.

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I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Future house

Before we’d even finished building people started asking if we thought we would ever build again. For some people, once is more than enough heart ache. For us, we kinda screw our faces up and shrug, maybe.

We’re not sure either way, but every so often we see things that make us think oh, let’s put that in our next house!

Our recent trip to Japan was a great source of that kind of inspiration. We stayed in a couple of typical modern Japanese apartments and were amazed to see how the lack of free space had inspired some pretty cool solutions. For example, the bathroom doubles as a clothes dryer. Yep, hang your clothes and change the settings to clothes dryer and then 4-6 hours later you’ve got dry clothes. AMAZING.

We also noticed the fondness for the control panel. The places we stayed all had control panels (and even remote controls) for all kinds of things: lights, hot water, bath, shower, toilet. Want to fill the bath? Put the plug in, select the temperature and hit the fill bath button and it will do it automatically.

Just when we thought we’d see it all, we stumbled across a Panasonic show room and popped in for a look. We were thinking it would be full of TVs and sound systems but there were very few of those around. Panasonic in Japan seems to have taken home renovation to a whole new level. Here are some of the favorite items.

All of these images are from http://sumai.panasonic.jp/. Try google translate if you can’t read it (like me!).

Draining cupboard with a difference

Draining cupboards have been around for a while and you can get them if you look hard enough but they haven’t really made their way into the standard Australian kitchen. Perhaps the dishwasher is to blame. I don’t know about you, but there are some things that will just never be able to go in the dishwasher and things like wooden chopping boards, sharp knives, baking trays and flimsy things all end up competing for space on the dish rack on the sink, looking ugly 99% of the time.

In it’s most standard form, a draining cupboard is just a cupboard with the bottom cut out and a few racks put in, like the ones here: http://drycupboard.com/dish-draining-cupboard-program/. The idea is to get the drying items up off the bench top and out of the way.

The difference about this amazing one is that firstly, the drops are captured at the bottom and it’s ventilated. Secondly, at the press of a button, the whole thing raises up into the cupboard above. Yep, disappears completely. All by itself.

Access all areas

Can’t reach the top shelf?

Cloak/shoe rooms

I would LOVE one of these. A magic place right by the front door to store shoes, coats, umbrellas etc. Of course, these are quite popular in many countries, but in Japan they come with a control panel for ventilation, odour control, lighting and just about anything else you might desire.

VERITIS

Magic grill drawer?

Yes please. If only for the novelty!

Bubble bath

I laughed at this one, but they had a sample to put your hand in and it feels lovely. Basically,it creates tiny bubbles of air in the water, like bathing in a soft drink!

Bathroom cupboards

With space to store and charge all the appliances! Seems like common sense but we had to pay extra just to have a drawer in our vanity!

Neat consumer electronics storage (Mira come mirror)

Bathroom cupboard

Amazing toilets

Toilets in Japan are known to greet you, raising their lids as you step into the room. They have warm seats, play sounds to disguise your sounds, wash, blow dry and deodorise. No need to squirm about touching the flush, most of them have hand sensors or will simply flush on their own. And this one flushes with foam every time.

La Uno

Indoor clothes line

We’ve all been stuck in wet weather when you have to dry a few things inside, but there’s not enough to warrant the full tumble dry. No more fiddling with the wire clothes horse, check this contraption that lowers from the ceiling!