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Tilted Clay Pot Garden

We had a rare bit of sun today, so I sped outside and cleared pots and beds in preparation for planting. After cleaning up some perennials and amending the soil in the raised bed, I planted some early red potatoes, Norlands. Will have to do more tomorrow while the weather’s clear. That’s the thing about living in a temperate rain forest…. We live in cottage on a hill and 90% of our land is in its natural state, understory…mainly salmonberry bushes, ferns, and trees. I have a small growing area and no lawn, so I rely on containers quite a bit. If you are also short on gardening space, consider going vertical with a tilted clay pot garden, also known as a tipsy garden. This clever way of creating a garden with a small footprint is made of angled flower pots. Today, I decided I am going to be making one and am passing on the directions in case you’d like one, too. Here’s a lovely example of a finished tipsy garden. I’ll post a photo of mine later in the season.

Before you begin,  choose where you want your tilted garden to be located. Determine the amount of sunlight you will need and plan accordingly. To make your garden here are the materials you’ll need:

  • Four terra-cotta pots (same size or graduated)
  • Potting soil
  • 65″ length of rebar
  • Mallet or hammer
  • Plants

Your piece of rebar must be long enough to drive it into the ground two feet with plenty left over to thread through the pots. So, the number of pots you need will be determined by the length of rebar. Take a good look at this photo before you begin.

  • Place your pots in order according to size, if graduated.
  • Drive rebar into the ground with hammer or mallet.
  • Thread each pot onto the rebar through the hole in the bottom of each pot.
  • Except for the bottom one, which remains upright, tilt the pots in opposite directions, to distribute weight, resting the bottom of each on the pot edge below it.
  • Fill with moistened soil, starting with the bottom pot, leaving an inch and a half space at the top of each pot.
  • Tamp down soil.
  • Plant and fertilize with your choice of flowers, strawberries, container veggies, herbs, or succulents.

Note: If you live in an area with freezing winters, you will have to dismantle and store the pots each year to prevent cracking. The alternative is to used pots that are glazed inside and out. Good luck!

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Clay & Self-Sufficiency

I  was at a garden centre yesterday, one that I particularly enjoy: Brian Minter‘s Country Garden. You can find ordinary and rare or unusual plants there. I saw saffron crocuses being grown for the first time… He also sells about 15-20 different kinds of seed potatoes. I finally decided on Norland, an early red. I trust his quality and selection and have listened to his shows and read his articles for years. I have his videos and really rely on them. In addition, he has a beautiful botanical garden, Minter Gardens, which rivals Butchart Gardens. Brian Minter is always willing to answer any question you might have and he is very approachable. Yesterday, I noticed that he’s getting ‘up there’ but he still has loads of get up and go. The centre also has beautiful gift items and curiosities. My friend Minoo and I slowly worked our way through the aisles and displays, clucking over this and that. As I was weaving my way around, I was, once again, struck by the fact that there were quite a few things on display that I could make. Knowing this affords me a sense of self-sufficiency. Yet, it’s one thing to know how and another to act on it. If I am truly interested, I’d better jot down some notes and make a few sketches before I forget. The fact remains: clay folk can make just about anything they want. Growing up with brothers and a father who were handy helped me immensely. That atmosphere informed me and I became conversant with electric and hand tools. By my teenage years, I was very comfortable making things on my Dad’s workbench. My mother’s father was also very handy and I spent enough time around him to bolster all these parts of myself. And my mother taught me everything I needed to know about cooking and sewing. It feels good to be able to do these things, but I am not talking about pride. I don’t like the word ‘pride’ or ‘deserve’ and I steer clear of them and what they represent. I don’t mind ‘gratified,’ though. Yesterday, it felt good recognizing that I could make some of the things I saw as we roved around Minter’s garden centre. I am eons away from ceramic mastery, but I’ve reached a point where I’m confident in ability. Technically, I can put something together according to plan. And ideas come to me. I have also worked in clay for so long now that I am so comfortable with the stuff it almost feels like an extension of myself. I identify with it. I’m happy to be where I’m at and happy to be doing what I’m doing. It feels good to become inspired and to know things are within reach if I want to travel a certain path. I’ve lived many places and moved many times, originally as a result of my father’s career and, later, out of habit and because of schooling. During those periods of my life, I was more interested in working with sculpture and abstraction. Now that I’ve ‘settled down,’ I am seeing myself making functional things I’d have never dreamt of making in the past and it’s sort of ironic. I recognize that my values, priorities, and tastes have changed or shifted. Some not all that much, but my needs certainly have. I ordered a greenhouse yesterday, my mother’s Christmas gift to us. As I was ordering it, I thought, gee, I could make some nice ceramic finials to run across the top of it after it’s up. Yes, I’m enjoying a sense of place and an inherited can-do mentality.

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