How-To: Windy Day Hang-Up
Weirdly, Saturday’s balmy weather became gusty to the point of tree-toppling by Sunday morning … Leaving the house at 5:30am for my walk, I was struck by the amount of tree stuff that clogged the streets, especially from the palm trees in the neighborhood. As I walked I wondered why no one was doing anything with all these fronds and other palm parts … especially the attractive scoop-like bit that reminds me of the basket jai alai players use, the cesta. Long and gracefully tapered, I’d used one of these dried palm fragments in a centerpiece project for The Times in 2009 (see post here). More recently, The Times’ Home section had run a short piece on a gardener who’d used hers as a succulent planter/centerpiece to beautiful effect (see that post here). I decided to play off both ideas and do something that would hang vertically from the wall. The result is above, and I think it’s very successful: It combines the appeal of a wall sconce with a pocket vase, and really showcases the plants within. I chose the elements that form the structure — metal mesh painted a textured rust color and coconut fabric liner — because they’d match the frond’s tones and provide a neutral background for a variety of succulents. I think this piece would look great in a garden room or on a front door … Best of all, putting it together didn’t take a huge amount of time or money, and was not difficult. Here’s how I did it …
Four major components go into this project: a palm scoop, metal mesh screening (an idea I cribbed from succulent-container maven, Vickie Perez; thanks, VP!), coconut fiber hanging plant liner and an array of small, colorful succulents. Everything but the scoop came from a big-box hardware store. Additional items used, that I already had on-hand: wire; wire cutting pliers; hammer; rust-colored, large permanent marker, textured, spray paint; staple gun, cactus mix soil, leather cord. Nothing fancy or pricey.
I began by cutting the metal mesh with wire-cutting pliers to an approximate size and rolling it into a cone-like shape (use gloves while doing this step). Holding it up to the scoop, I adjusted the cone’s size to fit snugly against it. Happy with the fit, I anchored where the cone overlapped at the bottom, and used small lengths of wire threaded through and twisted to secure them. Way too long, I held the cone up to the scoop, and used a marker to roughly mark where the plant pocket’s top should end. Using the pliers again, I cut along the line.
The mesh’s silvery finish was too jarring; spray paint in a rust-tone quickly took care of that. I made sure to cover the pocket inside and out with several coats. This particular spray paint features a rough-textured finish that looked perfect once dried. I placed the cone on the scoop and using a staple gun secured each side with several staples. Some of them didn’t go in fully; I used a small hammer to drive them all the way home.
I took the coconut fabric and cut a length that would fit into the mesh cone; I pushed it firmly down its entire length. I trimmed the excess fabric at top, making sure to leave enough to push onto the raw edge of the metal mesh, securing it. I knew I didn’t want the plants to just stick out of the top of the pocket, so, using the pliers again, I cut an opening down the front vertically and rolled it back. I then filled the bottom of the cone with cactus mix soil and added the first succulent. Firmly planted, I add more soil and then the next plant. Eventually the pocket filled with layers of plants and soil. The succulents I used were chosen for their contrasting shapes and colorful foliage … some black aeonium rosettes from the yard add dark spice to the mix.
Once everything was planted, I marked and drilled a hole for a hanger. A small length of leather cord pushed through the hole from behind, then knotted, provided the simple and effective solution.
The wall pocket-sconce is a picture of loveliness, up-front or in profile. I hope you’ll try this project, or some variation of your own devising … if you do, please email me photographs and I’ll post them here!