Monday, October 31, 2011

Vertical Succulent Frame DIY Tutorial part 2

This is part two of my Succulent Frame project. "It's all about the details." is what one of my great bonsai teachers told me.  I will be covering the types of plants I used, construction details, and how to apply design concepts for the succulent arrangement.

This is an update with details from my vertical succulent frame DIY tutorial in the last post.

Specific plant names that were used include:

Aeonium Zwartkop

Anglicum Sedum

Echeveria Peacockii

My apologies for not knowing exactly what Sempervivum I used because there was no label on it ...

... but there are tons of them and most of them are very well suited to be used in these vertical succulent frames.  Here is an example of several different kinds1:

 Sedum Makinoi 'Ogon'

and lastly but not least is Echeveria Perle Von Nurnberg

Construction Details

This is the back side of the frame without the cement board covering it.  This shows the rot proof heartwood spacer nailed to the sides.  The cement board will sit directly on top of these spacers.  This is an easy way to make an edge for the cement board to sit on without using a router. The backing board is cement board normally used for a support under tiling projects in the kitchen or bath room. This type of board will not rot or deteriorate when exposed to water.

Here you can see the galvanized L-Brackets I used to attach the side wall to the back of the frame.  I also used a waterproof wood glue between the side wall and frame.  If you look closely, you will see a staple holding the green plastic coated hardware cloth.

Using a compressor and pneumatic staple gun, I put a staple spaced about every 3" apart all the way around the edge of the hardware cloth.  The wood frame is sealed with three coats of an outdoor grade decking wood sealer.

After that, you put the cement board on top.  Pre-drill the holes into the cement board before you put the screws in.  I used hardiebacker screws designed for the cement board here.  They come with a specific screwdriver bit.

Every cutting fitted in between the 1/2" openings in the hardware cloth except for the Echeveria Perle Von Nurnberg.  I had to cut a bigger opening to fit the stem in.  Notice the four sharp edges of the wire pointing towards the center of the opening.  This might bite into the stem and that's not good.  The black item above is a short section of 1/4" polytube drip line.  Here's what you do with it...

Cut a slit on one side of the tube with a pair of pointy scissors.  Then wrap it around all four sides of the opening.  This will protect the sharp wire points from biting into the stem of your larger stems.


Most people think too hard and confuse themselves or have no clue where to put what.  Some people just randomly put plants wherever they land.  As for me, I like to apply design techniques because I learned them really well.  Here's what the final arrangement looks like so you can see it before I draw over it to demonstrate how I applied design concepts:

Use a basic shape for example:

Three Perle von Nurnberg Echeverias represent pinks and purples form a triangle.  :)

I placed Sedum Makinoi 'Ogon' along in a C shaped curve.  This curve brings the bright yellows into the composition.

I arranged the Sempervivums in a S-Curve.  These basic curves create an organic element to design and are very elegant.  They are a good contrast against straight edged shapes.  Speaking of contrast , the magic word...

Our vision scientifically tends to get drawn into areas with the highest contrast.  This means as a designer, you can create contrast to guide your viewer's eyes!  Where this red circled area is, I placed the highest tonal contrast putting the dark deep shiny purple Aeonium Zwartkop rosettes next to the chalky white Echeveria Peacockii.  There is also a color contrast since Sedum Makinoi 'Ogon' is yellowish and surrounds the deep purple Aeonium Zwartkop.

Next in my mind is size, color, and texture contrast in this area under the blue circle.  The largest succulent is the Echeveria Perle von nurnberg which is placed next to tiny strands of Anglicum sedum.  Again, Sedum Makinoi 'Ogon' the yellow is placed next to the purples in the Echeveria Perle von nurnberg to provide a color contrast in addition to size contrast.  And finally, the rough textures of the Sedum sets it apart from the large smooth petals on the Echeveria.

Click here to see the high resolution image of the final arrangement.

I think if you can use a few of these ideas in your designs, you will create a more well balanced, thought out, and harmoniously composed arrangement.  I hope this will help you fellow succulent lovers out there.  Good luck and don't forget to have fun while you work!

1. Image Source:

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