I’m back again, working with Pennington Vertical Gardens for this sponsored post! (Of course, all info and opinions here are my own.) Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for the $50 American Express gift card from Pennington here! The winner will be announced on Friday, October 11.

So, friends, I built my vertical garden that Pennington graciously sent me:

pennington vertical garden

Nice, huh? I built it ENTIRELY by myself, so you know you can do it, too.

I decided to install it on my front porch. And now I’m going to walk you through how I installed it. My instructions are for installing outside, into masonry like brick or stucco. (If you are putting it inside into drywall, you will use some slightly different hardware and tools.) If you follow the instructions from Pennington combined with mine, it should be pretty easy to install.

This is what was included in my kit:


And here’s what you’ll need, in addition to your supplies from Pennington:

pennington supplies

  1. two masonry drill bits, one that’s 3/16″ and one that’s 5/32″
  2. masonry screws and anchors, in 1/4″ x 3″ and 3/16″ x 2″; I bought screws that don’t require anchors, made by Tapcon. That eliminated a step for me.
  3. a tape measure and marking pen
  4. a level
  5. a power drill
  6. (not pictured) you will also need a 3/32″ drill bit for wood

To start, figure out where the top of your garden frame will fall. Pennington provides some guidelines based on the size of the frame; I hung my 4′ frame at about 68″ from the ground. Disassemble the top rail by sliding the cover off of the mounting piece.

Using a level, mark where you will need to drill holes with your mounting piece. For a 4′ frame, you need at least 3 mounting screws.


Remove the mounting piece and drill holes where you marked with your 3/16″ masonry drill bit. You will need to drill in 3″ deep so that your screws will go all the way into the brick or stucco.

Once you’ve got your holes drilled, put the mounting piece back up, lining up the holes in your wall with the holes in the top rail. Screw them in, either by hand or with a power drill with a Phillips head attachment.


Continuity error! Did you notice I changed shirts? I picked up where I left off on the second day.

You’ve just completed pretty much the hardest step of the project. Now, slide the cover onto the mounting rail, which hides the screws and makes it look all pretty.


On each vertical rail, attach a bottom cap. Then, hang the vertical rails from each side of the top rail, making sure that the notches face inward. The tricky part here is that you will be tempted to push the rails towards the center so they are flush against the top rail cover. What you need to do is push them as far outward as possible, so that they are flush with the little stop-notch on the outside of the top rail. Like so:


As you can see in the photo on the right here, there will be a gap between the top rail cover and the vertical rail. That’s ok, it will get covered up later.

Make sure the rails are leveled horizontally and mark the holes on the bottom caps where you will add screws to secure the vertical rails to the wall. Remove the vertical rails and drill holes where you marked, this time with the 5/32″ masonry bit.

pennington8Re-attach the rails and line up the holes in the wall with the holes in the bottom caps. Screw in the 3/16″ masonry screws, one on each side of each bottom cap (for 4 total).

And that really is the hard stuff done. Frame complete! All you need to do to is slide the top caps onto the top corners to finish the look. There are some tiny screws that secure these caps to the top as well.

pennington6For the horizontal planks, take the wooden rails and unscrew the metal mounting brackets from each. Keep those screws handy, and install the mounting brackets where you want your horizontal planks to sit. Consider what you will be hanging from each as you place them.

pennington7Once you’re sure that you’ve got everything where you want it, put the wooden planks into the brackets.

pennington9Mark the planks through the holes in the top of the brackets so you know where to drill.


Remove the wood plank and drill with your 3/32″ regular drill bit so that you have a pilot hole for the screws. Replace the planks, line up the holes, and screw in the screws so your planks don’t wiggle.

pennington11Repeat for all planks, and then the fun part: deciding where you want to hang what!

I have a few tips:

  • Consider what will be hanging below. I wanted a container with my gardening tools to hang, but I didn’t want water dripping from plants above into the container. So I made sure that I didn’t hang any plants above that container.
  • Think outside the box. Just because a tin pot would normally hold a plant doesn’t mean you have to follow that plan. Consider using the pot to corral other outdoor items, like sidewalk chalk, dog toys, or containers of bubbles.
  • Keep in mind who will be using the garden. If you put kids’ chalk in a container, make sure to hang it low enough and far enough away from anything you don’t want bumped.
  • Plan for watering. You will have to water your garden by hand, unless you all have a great idea for irrigating, in which case please share! When hanging plants, remember that you will need to access them for watering, so don’t make it too hard on yourself!

Now it’s time to plant!

pennington12You can’t really tell here, but I actually managed to make an ombre planter box! I found 3 cyclamens in 3 shades of pink and made myself really happy with an ombre collection.

Once I’d planted everything and hung my accessories, here’s the final outcome:

pennington vertical gardenI hung the dog’s leash from a hook on the top, and a galvanized pail I picked up at a hardware store on the bottom. That’s where I’m keeping my garden tools. I can simply pop the bucket off and take my tools wherever I need them!

My ombre box!

My ombre box!

Top level

Top level

garden tools

garden tools

Beautiful and efficient! Hope you like it. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Disclosure Statement

Pennington Vertical Gardens partnered with bloggers such as me to help educate us all about their Pennington Vertical Gardening System products. As part of this program, I received compensation. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the use of the products. Pennington Vertical Gardens believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Pennington Vertical Garden’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. A winner will be chosen by random and gift card fulfillment will be handled by a third party.


Pomegranate Basil Sangria

Pomegranate Basil SangriaI should really probably call this Pomegranate “Basils” Sangria, because I used four different kinds of basil in this recipe. And it is so delicious!

I want to remind everyone that the Pennington giveaway is still going on. You can win a $50 American Express gift card! You can still enter; simply leave a comment on this post or my previous cocktail post with your favorite gardening tip. I will announce the winner on Friday, October 11.

This sangria really lives up to its name, which comes from a Spanish word that means, “bleeding.” None of this white wine sangria, here, people. It’s like oxblood, which we all know is one of the on trend colors this fall.

Just like last week’s cocktail, I went out to the garden and picked several varieties of basil to make this drink. Basil is fantastic to grow; it’s easy and there are so many readily available kinds, you can have a whole garden of different flavors.

Besides the traditional Genovese basil, I’m also growing these:

basilsFor reals, that first one is called “Holy Basil.” It’s actually used in Ayurvedic medicine and has a minty, clovey taste. Thai basil is more common and has a slight licorice flavor. Variegated basil is also called Perpetuo basil since it doesn’t flower, and it also has a slightly spicy overtone.

You can use whatever basil or basils you want for this recipe. I say the more the merrier, but if you want to go traditional sweet basil, go for it!

Pomegranate Basil Sangria


  • 40 basil leaves, of one or more types
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 pomegranate (or 1 – 2 cups pomegranate seeds)
  • 1 bottle red wine

First, pick your basil and remove the leaves from the stems. I used about 40 leaves, 10 of each variety.

basils readyIn a small saucepan, mix the sugar with the water.

sangria3Add the herbs. As you drop them in the saucepan, crush them a bit to begin to release their aromatic oils.

sangria4Set the pot over medium low heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Make sure all the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, strain, and let the syrup cool.

sangria5While the basil syrup is simmering, cut your pomegranate in half and remove the seeds. Do you know the super duper easy way to remove them? Over a bowl, simply turn the half pomegranate cut-side down in your hand, and pound the outside with a wooden spoon.


Out come all the seeds and only a few stray pieces of flesh. It’s amazing! Although a little splattery.

sangria7Once you’ve got your pomegranate ready, you can begin to assemble the sangria. First, add the pomegranate seeds and juice, then about 1/2 c. of the basil syrup (more or less to taste). Finally, pour in the bottle of red wine. I used a nice Malbec which worked perfectly.

sangria9Mix it all up and let it steep for at least 30 minutes.

sangria10You can chill it while you are letting it steep, and even serve over ice. Garnish with some basil leaves.

sangria11Delicious, right? Perfect to drink while wearing your new shoes and nail polish.



I’m so happy to be working with Pennington Vertical Gardens for this sponsored post! (Of course, all info and opinions here are my own!)

cucumber tarragon gin & tonic

First, I’m sure you all want to know about the giveaway. Pennington has graciously offered you all a chance to win a $50 American Express gift card. AH KNOW! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment below with your favorite gardening tip. What’s your favorite thing to grow in the garden? Have a favorite recipe you make with something you grew on your own? Let us know in the comments, and you’ll be entered to win $50. For free! I’ll announce the winners next week. (You can get a second entry if you like me on Facebook!)

Pennington makes modular vertical gardening systems that are completely customizable so that you can fit them into your space.


Awesome, right? Obviously, they are vertical, so you can grow upwards instead of outwards. Which means that no matter how much space you have, you can install a garden. I’m excited to try the system that Pennington has provided for me, and you’ll get more deets on that next week!

One thing I love growing in my garden is herbs. They are so easy, and beautiful, and useful. You’ve seen my single herb basil garden before, and this year I planted an ecclectic bunch of herbs. Truthfully, the reason I wanted so many different herbs was for cocktails. But I swear, I’m not a lush.

Now that the garden is growing like mad, it’s time to cash in, so to speak, on the herbal bounty. I’m starting off with a refreshing, delicious cocktail: Cucumber Tarragon Gin & Tonic.

Now, even if you don’t like Gin & Tonic, I suggest to you that you’ll like this cocktail. It’s great for everyone because it’s not too sweet and not too bitter. And refreshing? Gah, you will not believe it.

First, you have to get yourself some tarragon, and hopefully you’ll be able to step out your door and pick some fresh. Nothing like an herb that was actually still growing 90 seconds before you consume it.


Snip off two or three sprigs.

Here’s what you’ll need for your cocktail:

gin & tonic ingredients

  • 2 – 3 sprigs of fresh tarragon
  • 2 thick slices of cucumber
  • gin
  • tonic (diet tonic is fine)
  • ice
  • a cocktail shaker
  • a wooden spoon or muddler

First, put your sprigs of tarragon into your cocktail shaker. I always pull the leaves off and leave the stems out.


Next, add two thick slices of cucumber. If you want a slightly stronger cucumber taste, you can cut these slices into quarters.


Using the end of a wooden spoon, or a muddler if you own one, smash up the cucumber and the tarragon. “Smash” is the technical term, but some people like to say “muddle.” Those people are too cool for school.


You’ll notice that, if you’ve used the slices intact, you’re really only getting the center of the cucumber mushed up. Which is fine. If you cut your cucumber up, you’ll be able to smash the rind as well, and you’ll get more of a cucumber taste. Dealer’s choice!


Now, fill your shaker with ice. To the top. No skimping! Then, add your gin. You want to fill the shaker about 1/3 full.


Now add your tonic. Fill the shaker up, which will end up being 2/3 of the shaker in tonic.


Put the lid on and shake it like a Polaroid picture.


Pour through the strainer into a glass full of ice. You will still get some tarragon bits (depending on how wild you went with the smashing), so if you want a completely clear drink, you can pour through a strainer to eliminate those herb bits. I kind of like them floating in there.


Garnish with tarragon and a slice of cucumber!


And enjoy! Check in next week when I’ll have another herbal cocktail to share with you.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Pennington Vertical Gardens, but the entirety of the content of my post is my own.

Disclosure Statement

Pennington Vertical Gardens partnered with bloggers such as me to help educate us all about their Pennington Vertical Gardening System products. As part of this program, I received compensation. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the use of the products. Pennington Vertical Gardens believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Pennington Vertical Garden’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. A winner will be chosen by random and gift card fulfillment will be handled by a third party.



I recently did a roundup of fairy gardens on Apartment Therapy, and so I’ve been thinking about things that are miniature and twee and sweet and all that. I’ve also been working in my garden, so I decided maybe it was about time I had a small corner that had something that could vaguely be construed as fairy.

But I like me some castles, so I wanted it to be a castle, with stones and mortar and the whole medieval shabang. I’ve never grouted before (can you use grout as a verb? I appear to have just done so!), but I’m game for anything and as soon as I saw that you can buy “pre-mixed grout” I was all in.

Here’s what you need for your fairy castle, and all of these things are available at home improvement stores like Home Depot:
fairy castle supplies

  1. Pre-mixed grout. I would get a darker color if I had to do it again.
  2. A small flowerpot whose mouth will fit over your PVC pipe (see #3).
  3. A length of PVC pipe, whatever height you want your castle to be. Add about 4 extra inches for the roof line and for plunging in the earth.
  4. Small tiles, rocks, pebbles… whatever you want your castle to be made out of.
  5. Tools not pictured: hot glue gun, craft stick, rags

I bought those tile slabs at Home Depot along with a few more. They have a good selection and the sheets are relatively cheap.

To start, think about the pattern you want to build. I knew I wanted some rows of tiles, so I cut my tile sheet into rows of 2 tiles and wrapped it around the pipe. As you start your pattern, make sure you leave about 2 – 3″ of the bottom clear so that you can stick it into the ground.



To secure it, I used a little hot glue on the back, knowing that it only needed to be secure enough to hold until I got to the grout.

After these tiles, I picked off these flat stones from another tile sheet I bought, and I started adding them one at a time, arranging them as I imagine some fairy construction crew would do it. I secured each of these with a little hot glue.


As you approach the top, stop adding rocks or tiles when they will interfere with your flower pot sitting on top of the pipe. I left enough un-tiled space so that the flower pot would sit flush on the pipe, not on top of the stones (since the stones made the pipe wide enough that the flower pot didn’t sit properly).

Now, do the same with your flower pot, knowing that this part will serve as the roof. I used some different tiles/rocks on this section, you know, just for fun.




Once you’ve got your rocks on, it’s time to start grouting. Be prepared with a craft stick or some other tool to slather on the grout, and a few damp rags to wipe the grout off of the rocks and tiles.

fairycastle6Slather on the grout one section at a time, making sure you are pushing it into all the nooks and crannies. The top and the bottom pose a little problem; I free-handed adding a small lip of grout to the bottom, underneath the tiles that end the pattern.

Once you’ve got a section done, use the damp rag to wipe the excess grout off of the tiles and rocks. This part is tricky, too, because you don’t want to pull the grout out from between the rocks, but you do want to get it off of their faces.

fairycastle7You can use a sponge, too, if it works better for you. This step is probably the hardest.

Once you’ve grouted your whole cylinder and flower pot, let it dry. After 4 hours, you can go back and touch up anywhere there’s still grout film left on the tiles or rocks; I used the scrubby side of a sponge and my fingernails to chip off any excess.

Let your pieces dry over night to fully cure them.

To place in your garden, choose the right fairy spot, and then push the cylinder’s bare 2 – 3″ into the dirt. This will stabilize the tower. If you want more stability, you could add some dirt inside the cylinder. Place the flower pot upside down on top of the tower, and your fairy castle is complete!


I made an entire fairy neighborhood, sort of. I hesitate to call it a fairy garden. But I added a small cobblestone walk; I simply took one of the sheets of tile (this one has river stones that I used on the castle), laid it in the dirt, and covered over the seams with soil.

I also saw this cute idea on Pinterest and copied it; I turned a large pot on its side and planted some plants inside of it, so that they are kind of spilling out of the pot. I thought it was cute enough that it deserved to be in this ‘hood.


As soon as all the plants grow in and smoosh up against each other, I will be delighted with the results!