My mom and her husband flew down to visit my daughter and put up with me for the weekend so I wasn't able to blog about anything while they were here. It's not that I was too busy to blog, of course, it's just that I had to keep up the ruse that I don't have a blog called "Me So Thorny" so my sweet, sheltered, good-natured mother wouldn't discover it and become more disappointed with me. Besides the title, I may have written a thing or two over the course of this blog's existence that weren't intended for motherly consumption.
So there was no showing off of the blog, but I did get to show my mom around the yard so she could see what I've done with the place since she was last here. I guess I passed her test because she wants me to come up with a design she can use for a narrow space between the L-shaped walkway that leads up to her house and the 6-foot privacy wall that borders it. Although I'm not a professional garden designer, I decided I could still give her the family and friends rate on my services as long as she agreed to fly me down to her place in Florida and feed me for as long as the installation took. I doubt she'll hire me.
I think we'll reach a compromise though - I'll make a few suggestions and she'll keep my name in the will. Although my price demands won't be met, I have to admit that I was, and I remain, happy to help. It's nice when people recognize your talents (or at least your interests) and want you to share that with them.
Which leads me to the real point of this post. Several months ago I ran across this planter box/trellis combo at a nursery and loved the design but not the price tag.
I've tried to zoom in and read the price tag for the sake of accuracy but I still can't tell if it says $389 or $589. Either way, it's a lot plus $89 more than I wanted to spend so I never pulled the trigger. And because I chose to take Greek and Latin roots as my high school elective instead of Wood Shop, I never acquired the requisite skills to build such a contraption.
But the other day a friend of mine, Jordan, posted a picture on Facebook of a wooden bed frame he wanted to build. It was a pretty cool bed frame and it occurred to me that if he could build something with some artistry to it and that was also sturdy enough to sleep on every night he could probably build something that would look good in the yard and still be sturdy enough to hold some potting soil. So I sent him the picture above and asked him if he could replicate it. He said yes and he quoted me a price I liked and the next thing I knew I had commissioned my first piece of anything.
Like many woodworkers, Jordan is a perfectionist. I suppose that trait is a necessity given the high cost of both lumber and the reattachment of phalanges. As part of his preparation for this project he decided that it would be a good idea to go to the nursery where I originally found this design and take a closer look. Being the honest guy he is, he reported back to me that the original unit was still there and they had marked it down to $299. "But," he said, "it's really weathered and it's a lot smaller than I thought it would be. My price quote was for a much bigger unit. What do you want to do?"
I have a small yard so I try to get things that fit the scale of my garden. But, and these are big buts, I had already struck a deal with him and I wanted to honor that deal especially since he'd already put forth some effort and you can't just tell another guy that you want the smaller thing no matter what it is. If you have any choice in the matter, things like trucks, barbecues, gigabytes on your iPad, TV screens, and Subway sandwiches all have to be as big as possible if you want to save face. Of course, you have to be careful you don't go too big because that just encourages Napoleon Complex jokes. You see, being a modern man requires the balance of a funambulist.
Naturally, I yelled "build it, build it, build it!" in response to Jordan's question. A day later I had a message from him saying he was done. When he said he had something bigger in mind, he wasn't kidding.
This mammoth creation stands 6'4" tall and is nearly as wide. I have no idea how much it weighs, but I can tell you that once I decide where to put it, I won't be moving it again.
I learned a couple things in this process: 1. It's more fun and more rewarding to pay your friends for their talents than it is to pay a store (although I still want to support my local garden centers!). 2. Buying large pieces of anything require some extra thought. You know, simple questions like "where will it go?" should have a readily-apparent answer. 3. If you're going to have house guests for the weekend, make sure they have a good back so they can help you unload heavy objects and 4. bigger may not always be better but it is more fun. [Insert "that's what she said" joke here.]
Now the fun part: what should I put in my new planter box? I'm in zone 9A and it'll probably end up in full sun. I'm leaning towards something like Chilean Jasmine or an espaliered apple tree but I'd love to hear your suggestions.