Contrivances that vary the usual ground-level gardening procedures have potentials worth exploring.
An herb wheel is a decorative variation of the ordinary planting, and is one loved by herb connoisseurs. Laying the wheel flat on the ground, they fill the spaces between the spokes with soil, and plant them to various small herbs like parsley, chervil, chives and thyme. Old wagon wheels for this purpose can often be picked up in country junkyards.
The wheel idea could be extended to house a collection of dwarf sedums. Nothing is easier to grow than sedum, providing it is given a sunny, well-drained location. Soil can be poor. Watering is seldom needed. The wide range of foliage and blossom colors and the low growth habit of the dwarf varieties fit it admirably for planting in confined, patterned spaces. Clipping, to prevent encroachment of one variety upon another, is about all the care this garden will need.
Sedum is easy from seed, and packets of mixed dwarf kinds can be purchased. Plant divisions will give quicker results, of course, and it is quite possible that many young gardeners can get a collection of cuttings from friends. Anyone who has sedum always has plenty to give away.
Portulaca also lends itself to wheel planting. Arranged in separate colors between the spokes, it will make a flamboyant display for the child who likes his colors bold and brash. This plant grows only five or six inches tall, and comes into flowering in about eight weeks from planting. It endures hot sun and drought.
Strawberry barrel. This could be made by any young manual training student, since the construction is mainly a matter of boring holes. These are usually two inches in diameter, and spaced about eight inches apart. Rows should be staggered so that holes in one row are above blank spaces in the row below. Holes are bored in the bottom of the barrel, too, and covered with a few inches of drainage material. A center core of some sort must be provided. This may be a roll of mesh wire or perforated sheet metal (an abandoned stovepipe will do). Or it may be three boards, the height of the barrel, with one-inch holes bored in them at frequent intervals. These are put together in the shape of a triangle. This core, however it is made, is placed down the center of the barrel.
A good rich soil mixture should be prepared. When the planting is started, the barrel is first filled with soil up to the lowest row of holes. Roots of plants are inserted from the outside, covered with soil and firmed well. More soil is then added up to the next planting line.