May 2020 Dome of the Month
Daniel and Kerry Branagan use their 26′ Growing Dome a little differently than most. Instead of growing food or flowers, their greenhouse is filled with beautiful lush succulents of all shapes and sizes. Kerry’s love for succulent plants came about as a child at her grandmas when she saw her first hen and chick succulent. She was fascinated by it.
For the past 16 years, Kerry and Daniel have been collecting succulent plants from all over the world on their travels. Where most people might buy a small trinket as a trip memento, Kerry and Daniel pick out a unique succulent. As you can imagine, they have collected many “souvenir succulents”; jade, aloe vera, echeveria varieties. Her favorite is a sizeable Canary Island aeonium that they bought on a trip to San Francisco.
Their Growing Dome Journey
For the Branagan’s a Growing Dome was the obvious choice. They see incredibly high winds and massive snow loads in Idaho Falls, Idaho. “The quality just can’t be beaten.” They purchased their 26′ Growing Dome Greenhouse kit in September of 2015. With the help of the family and a Growing Spaces supervisor, they were able to get the Dome built quickly. Although they originally planned to use the greenhouse for food, Kerry quickly realized that kind of gardening was not for them. But it was a perfect environment for her succulents.
Inside their Growing Dome
Kerry called their geodome greenhouse “a sanctuary, a place of peace, quiet, and solitude. The very best investment they have ever made.” When I asked Kerry if they made any adjustments to their greenhouse to make it the proper environment for succulents, she said, “not a thing” their greenhouse gets A LOT of sun even during the winter months. The pond, in combination with the sunlight, keeps the Dome at a perfectly steady temperature. They haven’t added any fish to the pond. Instead, they chose to add a small shelf to hold extra succulents and add a little pond coverage to keep away the algae. This is a great option for anyone who struggles to keep floating pond plants alive.
Over the past five years, Daniel and Kerry have had countless visitors. People come from all over to see inside of their succulent paradise. Kerry is happy to share advice, knowledge, and succulent propagations with everyone she meets. Her garden club often meets at the Dome. Kerry said, “every time she enters the Dome, she is reminded of priceless memories from trips or friends who have visited and gifted succulents.” Currently, Kerry is working hard in her Dome; prepping succulent bouquets for both of her daughter’s weddings.
Advice to Future Dome Owners
I ask everyone who participates in the Dome of the Month, what advice would they give to a future dome owner? Kerry had some expert feedback. Especially for those who would like to start a succulent greenhouse sanctuary for themselves.
1. Maximize your space with hanging baskets.
2. Try to put the eyelets in before you build your Dome. (These are now included with each kit.)
3. If you plan to grow succulents in your greenhouse opt for a sand floor over concrete. If you do this, you will often find succulent offset sprouting on the ground.
As someone who can’t even keep a cactus alive, I asked Kerry what advice she might have for beginner succulent greenhouse gardeners. She said, “growing succulents are very different depending on where you live. Succulents love moisture and sun, so be sure to provide ample amounts of both. Some great beginner succulents include haworthia or small types of aloe vera.”
Show off your greenhouse!
All of our Featured Growing Dome’s are highlighted in our monthly newsletter “The Happy Grower,” on our social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram), and in our blog. At the end of the year, we create an annual calendar that includes every Dome of the Month. This will be sent to all Dome of the Month participants, along with a gift of Growing Spaces gardening goodies! Apply here. Have questions about high altitude gardening? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.