By |2021-09-27T14:35:38+10:00September 18th, 2021|Uncategorized|

Grandmas’ treasures  REPURPOSED

By Rachel Gleeson for The Village Observer September 2021

Grandmas’s treasures repurposed! Do you have a stash of bequeathed treasures that you really don’t have a purpose for, however would never dream of parting with? Ok, let’s go pull it out of the boxes all and find a glorious stage for them in your garden!

Silver Platters -Hanging bird planters. This is a great way to show off antique silverware. Drill through the middle of the tray using a “metal”drill bit . Secure a hook bolt through the hole and secure onto a chain.

Pewter mugs -plant hanger. These trophy mugs look great grouped together. Display and grow your favourite cutting or plants. Add drainage by drilling through base with a ‘metal’ drill bit.
Use wire to secure the cups to the hanger (instead of hooks) as the wire allows you to manipulate and adjust the mugs position.
Silver tea and coffee pots. Along with their accessories such as sugar bowls/milk creamers are a beautiful way to display flowers, or can be used as planters Simply drill a hole in the bottom (using a ‘metal’ drill bit) and remove lid (or wire it open).

Tea cups/saucers make dainty plant vessels and wonderful gifts! Place cup upright on a soft surface (eg teatowel) and use a “ceramic” drill bit to drill a hole in the base. Spray area to be drilled with water to prevent overheating. Use moderate, consistant pressure when drilling (be patient!)

Cake Stand Hang and use as a small bird feeder, or display with plants (pictured mini living moss balls). They look great in groups hanging. Musical instruments Trailing plants (such as rhipsalis pictured) look fantastic in this vessel! The brass will age/weather and form a beautiful blue patina over time.

Soup Terrine lid – Hanging basket. Drill four holes (using a ‘metal’drill bit on your drill) Also drill two holes in the base,either side of the handle for drainage. Purchase a hanging basket chain set from the hardware store/nursery and clip through holes.

If you don’t have a stash of these lovely bygone things, they are readily available from second hand stores, auction houses or online. Just ask at your local hardware store for the appropriate drill bits, wire or hooks needed to complete these tasks.


By |2021-06-24T11:36:41+10:00June 24th, 2021|hypertufa planter, Plants, Uncategorized|

Make your own


By Rachel Gleeson

for The Village Observer April 2021

The term ‘hypertufa’ simply means ‘man made rock’. When making hypertufa planters we are attempting to mimic the look of natural porous limestone.

The three main ingredients you need to make your own hypertufa planters are cement, peat moss and vermiculite/perlite. Vermiculite holds water within its air pockets and also lets the pot ‘breathe’ so is a good option for making a ‘moss pot’. However, if you want to make a vessel for plants that like a dryer environment (such as succulents) a better option would be perlite which will make the pot drain more quickly.

Peat moss is organic, very light and has incredible water holding capacity. The combination of these three ingredients’ result in a very natural looking strong, lightweight vessel, which ages beautifully.



• 1 part cement
(sifted to remove any lumps)

• 1 1/2 parts vermiculite
OR perlite

• 1 1/2 parts peat moss

• bonding adhesive
(hardware store)

• water

You will also need

• Mixing tub

• gloves

• disposable face mask

• spray cooking oil or plastic wrap

• garbage bag or old plastic bags

• mould (pot/tub/dish)

• metal brush or course sandpaper

This is a messy job,
so make sure you wear old clothes!

Estimate how much mixture you need, according to the size of your mould, it’s best to make more than you think you will need. Have on standby an additional smaller mould, so you can use any leftover mixture on instead of it going to waste. Decide what side of the mould you are going to use (the inside or outside).Spray area with cooking oil or cover with wrap (to assist removal of pot from mould)

Add the three dry ingredients first and mix well. Add bonding adhesive (about 3/4 cup diluted with a couple of cups of water). GRADUALLY add more water to the mix to form a consistency of cottage/ricotta cheese (it should hold together in your hand when squeezed). Allow mixture to sit for a few minutes.

Start with the base & add a layer 3-4cm in thickness. Tamper down firmly with your thumb to remove air pockets. Work your way around the side walls (2-3cm thick). Use your finger to make a drainage hole in the base. Smooth off all edges. Once finished, cover your creation with plastic and place in a shady location for a couple of days.

Two days later: Carefully remove the pot from mould (your pot has not yet cured and is fragile). Use sandpaper or a metal brush to smooth or rough up the texture of your pot according to what type of look you are after.

Recover the pot with plastic and place back in a shady area for at least three weeks.

Three weeks later: Remove plastic and immerse your hypertufa pot in a mix of 90% water and 10% vinegar for 10 minutes (this will remove the excess lime from the pot and make it more plant friendly). It is now finished! Initially your pot will look rather ‘new’ however once planted out and regularly watered your pot will take on an aged natural ‘mossy’ patina.


By |2021-06-24T11:47:59+10:00June 22nd, 2021|Uncategorized|

In the garden


By Rachel Gleeson

for The Village Observer Feb 2021

During the last 12 months the COVID pandemic has created a ‘botanic boom’ throughout the world. Indoor plants have provided comfort and company to many millions of people, who have been in isolation at home. Studies show that sharing your space with plants has a positive effect on reducing both stress and anxiety levels. The caring for and “parenting” of plants offers hope for regeneration and kinship.

Terrariums, have once again risen in popularity and are a great choice for apartment dwellers and plant owners who are time or space poor. Terrariums provide an almost foolproof way of nurturing and displaying plants that need humidity and moisture to thrive. They provide a tropical ecosystem under glass that would otherwise be unachievable in most homes.


Materials + Plants:

Any glass vessel with a lid, such as coffee jar/bottle can be used. A basic terrarium requires just 4 ingredients – small pebbles (for drainage), Charcoal (to neutralise odours), soil and plants.

For a plant to thrive in a closed terrarium they must love moisture, shade and humidity. These are my favourite terrarium plants, all of which are available from nurseries in the Sydney locality.

• Hypoestes (‘polka dot plant’)

• Fittonia (‘nerve plant)

• Syngonium (‘arrowhead plant’

• Small ferns

• Small begonia varieties

• Peperomia

• Ficus pumulia (creeping fig)

• Haworthia

• Heartleaf philodendron

• Pilea (‘chinese money plant)


– Firstly place 4-5cm of pebbles in base, followed by a small amount of charcoal.

– Place plant(s) on top of charcoal and gently fill around the base with similar amount of soil.

– Decorative moss, rocks, figurines, shells can be added on to the top layer.

– Carefully add water to the terrarium, just enough to reach the top of the pebble layer. Place the on lid and you are done!

– Over the next 24 hours a fine mist of condensation should become visible at the top of your terrarium. If instead, your vessel has large droplets of moisture, take the lid off for an hour or two to allow some of this to evaporate).

Keeping your terrarium well:

– Your terrarium will need rewatering whenever there is no condensation at the top of the jar/vessel (probably every couple of months). Additionally, you can give an occasional wipe down to clean the glass.

– Trim your plants if/when overcrowding occurs, with a long-handled scissors.

– Make sure you keep your terrarium in a bright location as it needs light to breathe and grow (avoid hot areas and harsh light). If your room is too dark, simply place under a lamp containing a LED bulb for eight hours a day (connect a timer). This will replicate the sun’s rays and enable it to grow.

Real World Gardener Podcasts chats to Ivy Alley

By |2019-06-24T21:47:25+10:00May 27th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Real World Gardener kindly chatted to me on their Plant of the Week Program

“Today I’m about to take you on a fantastic journey with a nursery owner who goes beyond the plastic pot in her nursery. I’m talking with Rachel Gleeson, horticulturist and owner of succulent and bonsai nursery, Ivy Alley. Let’s find out. Hopefully you’re inspired to use some unusual containers to pot up your plants. Definitely take a leaf out of Rachel’s book.”

Listen to podcast here

Better Homes and Gardens walk around tour of Ivy Alley

By |2019-06-24T21:54:49+10:00May 27th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Better Homes and Gardens Featured Ivy Alley on their program.

“Graham visits a very unique nursery that has sprouted and grown from a woman’s love and passion for plants, the big difference here? It’s in her backyard and access is from a laneway! For the owner, Rachel, it was either stop gardening or start a nursery to house her ever growing collection of plants. And what better way to keep an eye on your plants than to grow them close to home – actually at home. Graham discovers some fantastic upcycling projects, lots of garden inspiration and with the help of Rachel makes a very unique planter… You’re going to love this!”

Watch segment here

A lovely blog post from iGarden Home of the Compulsive Garden

By |2019-06-24T21:31:19+10:00May 27th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Thank you for the lovely feature on your blog iGarden

Passing through the curtain-festooned entrance, I entered into what seemed like an enchanted world: an oasis-like cloistered garden of an artistic soul who loves to arrange plants in original, creative ways, using vintage items for the display. I felt as if I was in a Victorian-era conservatory, with plants arranged in and amidst an array of quirky garden ornaments, old wares and interesting furniture repurposed to hold plants! Cleverly placed mirrors make the space seem bigger. Old ladders are employed as effective plant stands, as is an antique dressing table and a stacked set of old wooden packing crates. Many of the ideas could be used in compact gardens to make the most of available space.

Check out the story here

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