Agave is a stunning container specimen in any setting – especially here with the silver leaves and dark grey container in a stark white setting. And you pretty much can’t kill it. It can take shade, it barely needs any water, and it gets big, fast.
All of this awesomeness comes at a price. The spikes are brutal, so you need to set it where it’s not going to impale innocent passers by. It makes a LOT of babies so things will get crowded, FAST. You can twist the babies out when they are tiny, otherwise you need to cut or saw them out. The sap is caustic, so you need to be covered up if you are cutting out babies or sawing off leaves – yes, sawing. Finally, you need to be absolutely sure you want one because once it gets established, it’s not going anywhere.
Here is a beautiful example of layering plants and decorative objects in garden design firm Living Green’s booth at Sunset Celebration Weekend. Styling an outdoor room the way you would style an indoor room creates an inviting and interesting space that you don’t want to leave.
- Group similar objects for more impact. In this case, Asian inspired statues, natural stones, and potted orchids on the table.
- Simplify your color scheme. Here, natural tones and textures with mix with tables, ceramic stool, glass rock, and textiles all in shades of blue-green.
- Play with scale. Huge containers and big objects on the ground, tables of varying heights, small potted plants and objects on the tables (and tucked in the big pots).
Succulent walls are a huge trend right now and so perfect for small spaces, low water environmentally friendly gardens, or just overall extreme coolness. This spectacular succulent wall was created by Succulent Gardens in Castroville.
You can have these installed and maintained, or do it yourself by with box frames, chicken wire, and sphagnum moss. The sphagnum moss is your planting medium here - you don’t want to use dirt with these. You’ll need to water and feed these more frequently than conventional containers.
Here are some good succulent frame DIYs:
You can buy succulent box frames at Succulent Gardens, Flora Grubb Gardens, and probably about a million other places. The frames come in all shapes and sizes.
I noticed several of these portable plant screens used at the Sunset Magazine gardens to screen or block off certain areas.
This could not be easier: an inexpensive trellis from the nursery or garden center, vine, container, and maybe even a plant stand with wheels. I don’t normally like plastic pots, but in this case I’d recommend a plastic pot that looks like terra cotta because it will be easier to move around and you won’t have to water it as often. Depending on which vine you choose, you might need to tie it to the trellis.
I’d probably do something fairly indestructible like a Jasmine, Bower Jasmine, or Ceanothus because I know I can grow those in a container without killing them. Clematis and Mandevilla are awfully tempting, but I’d probably forget to water them. I believe that’s an Akebia in the picture.
Sunset has a great list of fast growing vines like Thumbergia and Morning Glory that work well in containers.
Spotted at Sunset’s Celebration Weekend: succulents in a Hover Dish hanging planter. I’ve been wanting one of these for a while now. Anything would look great in a planter this cool, but it really is so perfect for succulents.
The frilly echeverias are clearly the stars here. Smaller echeveria are planted in alternating clusters of green and purple with spiky forms filling the spaces between the clusters. Sedums are planted at the edges – the ‘donkey tail’ varieties will grow to spill over the edges of the planter.
Sunset magazine’s Celebration Weekend was this weekend and I was finally able to make it this year. Next to the El Porteno empanadas and the avocado cupcakes with key lime buttercream frosting, this might have been my favorite:
Salvia Amistad. Full, lush, drought tolerant, intense dark purple blue, hummingbird heaven. Sunset says this one grows to 3-4 feet tall and three feet wide, but this bad boy looked like it was 5 feet in both directions. Stunning. I must have one.
Try planting succulents in huge swaths of a single color. There are so many varieties that you can choose almost any color combination you want. Your garden will look like a jewel box.
This is Echeveria Agavoides ‘Purple Pearl’ and Agave attenuata ‘Nova’ (Blue Fox Tail Agave). When these echeveria fill in, the effect is going to be stunning.