Succulent inspiration at Emily Joubert Home and Garden

succulent ideas

Emily Joubert Home and Garden is a small but perfect shop in Woodside, California. The patio is absolutely beautiful. Every inch is packed with great ideas and unique, carefully selected items. This display is full of succulents, stone containers, and objects that would work equally well indoors or out.

succulent ideas

These seemingly disparate items work together to informal and relaxing effect because there is a definite method to the mix: natural materials, neutral tones, worn surfaces, slightly rustic objects. Even the succulent forms and colors are grouped together.

succulent ideas

If you do stop by, give yourself enough time to enjoy the overall effect and then take everything in down to the last perfect detail.

How to grow a pomegranate tree

how to grow a pomegranate tree

Pomegranates are one of the easiest, and prettiest, fruit trees to grow and work well in the ground or in containers. And it’s so cool to have a fruit tree that has been in cultivation since ancient times. This gorgeous specimen pictured above is one of several that were growing in perennial borders around the house at Filoli. I’ve got one in my yard and if I can’t kill it, neither can you.

If you are growing your pomegranate in a container, a dwarf variety will work better. In the ground, just figure out how much space you have and go from there. A pomegranate will tolerate a wide variety of soils, including clay. Plant in full sun.

It grows more like a bushy shrub than a tree. You can get it looking more tree like by pruning lower branches and suckers. You can also you can thin out areas that are crowded or cut out crossed branches. Any overall pruning should be done very lightly: flowers and fruit grow from the ends of the branches.

Pomegranates are drought tolerant but regular water will give you more flowers and fruit. In a container, let the soil dry out a bit before watering. Feed it in the spring and fall.

Finally, be patient. Mine was in the ground for several years before I got any pomegranates.

how to grow a pomegranate tree

how to grow a pomegranate tree

Patio ideas: the terraces at Filoli

Filoli garden terrace

I don’t have a terrace but I do have a patio and a yard. That are smaller than even one of the terraces at Filoli. But there are a lot of great ideas here that work just as well on a smaller scale.

Above, the structure is softened with a vine and a loose, sprawling shrub. The shrubs at the corners bring more structure, but are softened with groundcovers. The containers are simple and substantial.

Filoli garden terrace

Go for broke with one really stunning container or object.

Filoli garden terrace

Line your patio with low maintenance, low water trees and shrubs like Arbutus Unedo (above) and Camellia Japonica (below). Keep your furnishings and containers simple, substantial, and well placed. The plantings keep this from looking too stark: full, lush trees and shrubs, groundcovers at the edges and between the pavers, succulents that spill over their containers.

Filoli garden terrace

Succulents in large scale containers

succulent container

I visited Filoli today, just before the gardens close for the season. The estate is set in the most beautiful part of Woodside and has a 16 acre garden, an orchard, a nature preserve, a 36,000 sq. ft house (which I have never set foot inside), and one of the best garden and home shops around. Their annual sale is going on now, so it’s well worth a visit for that reason alone.

Of course my favorites were the succulents in large scale containers. Big containers are striking and add a sense of structure, scale and permanence to your garden.

Pictured above, silvery Cotyledon orbiculata (pigs ears) in a concrete planter. Silver plants and concrete is one of the most beautiful combinations, and it really brings out the sculptural qualities of both plant and planter.

echeveria stone planter

More silver and concrete. This one is Echeveria Zonnestraal.

succulent container

Kalanchoe Silver Spoon. This timeworn yellow is perfection.

agave parryi

Agave Paryyi. Big planters are not cheap, especially big antique planters. You can get inexpensive, great looking terra cotta pots anywhere. They’re always classic and always look great. Their only drawback is how quickly they dry out, which is an advantage when growing succulents, so you pretty much can’t go wrong.

A beautiful vase that does good

little shirley vases

These beautiful little vases are handmade and come in every color of the rainbow, they’re only $20 each, and Material Good donates 10% of their profits to community organizations.

Small vases are especially useful this time of year when your garden flower supply is dwindling. You can tuck single blooms or leaves in each vase, or display them in a group leaving some empty.

Indoor gardening: get this look

indoor garden

It’s the time of year to time to think about indoor gardening, even around here. Look at this adorable vignette in the home of a Chicago-based jewelry designer – so simple and pretty.  Growing things inside my house always makes me feel like I’m in some cool country house in Provence. This Giant Clover needs a lot of light, but any plant would look pretty in this setting. There’s really no reason not to garden indoors; if you are one of those people who can’t keep houseplants alive you can do three things:

  1. Grow only Sansevieria. I’m not really joking here, that’s pretty much what I do.
  2. Think of your houseplants the way do you cut flowers and replace them when they stop looking good.
  3. Stop overwatering. You’re killing them. Seriously, the lazier I get, the better my houseplants look.

Here are some accessories to get you started. EVERYTHING is on sale right now, so it’s a great time to style your indoor garden and then use these outdoors next summer.

west elm orb lanterns

Orb lanterns from West Elm

West Elm lanterns

Ceramic hurricanes from West Elm

hurricanes from West Elm

Glass and ceramic hurricanes from West Elm

galvanized planters from pottery barn

Galvanized planters from Pottery Barn

galvanized trays pottery barn

Galvanized trays from Pottery Barn

Yet more succulent-container combinations

mixed dudleyas

These are Dudleyas. I love the mix of forms, all in varying shades of silver, and the way the silver is set off by the white ceramic pot. Dudleyas are super easy to root from just a leaf. Just lay a leave on top of loose potting soil, keep the soil a little moist, and bam! roots and leaves. You can also just break off a rosette and replant.


Sedum in a turquoise ceramic pot I bought at an estate sale. For this pot, I like plants that spill over its squat, round form. When your sedum gets a little leggy like this one, just cut off the ones that don’t look good at the base of each stem. Trim the stem close to the leaves and tuck it back in your pot.


Haworthia growing in another estate sale find. This combination gives me a southwest/70s/midcentury vibe. Haworthia is a slow grower, but eventually it will get big enough for you to divide and repot. With this one, I have NOT had luck snapping off a rosette and replanting it.


Echeveria ‘Jade Point’ in a red ceramic pot. I like the chunky forms of both the succulent and the pot, and the red tips of the leaves with the red ceramic.

October planting: my nursery haul

galvezia speciosa island bush snapdragon

So I did end up with a few plants that were not on my list, but they are really good ones! The Annie’s Annuals section at Half Moon Bay nursery is a dangerous place for anyone with a plant addiction and apparently for anyone who wants to buy a salvia. While shopping, I had an encounter with a hummingbird who was getting a little territorial over ‘his’ salvias.

Galvezia speciosa ‘Island Bush Snapdragon’ (pictured above) I’ve never grown this one but it sounds perfect: hummingbirds love it, it can take dry conditions, shade, and clay soil. 3′ high by 5′ wide, blooms late spring through fall, and can work as a mounding groundcover, which is how I will be using it, or a vining shrub. It’s native to the Channel Islands. (photo by Annie’s Annuals)

salvia apiana white sage

Salvia apiana ‘White Sage’ I love, love, love silver plants. This one loves heat and drought and doesn’t want any summer water. Bees and hummingbirds love its white flowers that bloom in the spring on 3′ FLOWER SPIKES! Another California native, this one is endangered from illegal harvesting to make smudge sticks. We’ll see if it can take my heavy clay soil. (photo by Annie’s Annuals)

Abutilon megapotamicum 'Halo'

Abutilon megapotamicum ‘Halo’ These are so pretty and they attract butterflies and hummingbirds. I always admire them and I couldn’t resist the apricot flowers on this one. I’ll put this in part shade near my Japanese Maple. At 4′ it should fill the spot perfectly.

woolly thyme

Wolly thyme Look how cute it is! I couldn’t just leave it there. I’m going to put it in a crack along my raised bed and see if it makes enough to divide later on.

October planting list

coreopsis mango punch

Fall is the one time of year I can plant things in my garden and they won’t die of neglect. New plants get the entire winter rainy season to get established so they can withstand heat, drought. This time around I am going to tackle my garden in chunks and get one area looking good before tackling the next area. And I’ll be going to my favorite nursery with a plant list (I’m sure I’ll still come home with a bunch of randoms).

In the spirit of picking my battles, I’m ceding part of the back garden bed to my dog for her dirt baths (for now). I’m also going with low maintenance, proven, plants I can’t kill. Here’s my list – I’d love to hear what others are planting!

Brass band rose (pictured below in my garden) This one might have to wait until the bare root roses come in. This is a big healthy rose covered with long lasting orange-peach blooms. It’s past its peak now, but will keep blooming through November. I’ll replace a couple of sub par roses with one of these.

Proven plants that I can’t kill:

Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) I’ve got one now. It’s easy, it’s stunning, and it’s a fall bloomer. The leaves smell like pineapples and there’s always a hummingbird in there somewhere.

Bog Salvia (Salvia uliginosa) to weave into the Pineapple Sage. I love this combination so why not repeat it?

English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) I have several varieties but this one smells the best and honeybees love it. I wish it reseeded like my Spanish Lavender but it doesn’t so I guess I’ll have to buy more.

New ones to try:

Corepsis ‘Mango Punch‘ (pictured above) I like these simple, graphic flowers and you can never have too much orange. I’m going to try this one under my roses. It’s supposed to be tough, so I’ll plunk a few in other parts of the yard and see how they do.

Geum chiloense Small hot colored flowers on tall spikes are striking and see-through to add some depth. I’ll try these in a couple of places as well.

Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa) I’m planning this one as an alternative to Helichrysum petiolare which I love but is invasive so it’s off the list. I want a tough, silver-leafed, low water plant to fill in some difficult areas. According to the Marin Master Gardeners, it attracts beneficial insects, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

brass band rose

Indoor herbs

indoor herbs

I can grow fresh herbs year round in my garden. But there is something about herbs growing in the kitchen. They’re right there, ready to use, they look pretty, and they smell amazing. Most herbs will grow quite happily next to a window. They will need more water than your houseplants – probably twice a week. Small leaved herbs (lavender, rosemary, thyme) won’t need any special care. Basil and mint will want their leaves washed occasionally or they will get spider mites. That’s about it.

The other thing you can do is think of them as cut flowers and just replace them with new plants when they start to look ratty. It’s still less expensive than buying cut fresh herbs for cooking. You can get potted herbs most of the year at Trader Joe’s.

Two handled vase from Wisteria. Small bowl made my my mother.