Terrain succulent containers at Anthropologie & Co

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When your teenager invites you to go Black Friday shopping, you go. Even if you hate shopping. And if you do it right with cupcakes, hot chocolate and the company of said teenager who has just turned 16 and wow the time is really flying by these days, it’s really not that bad. And I finally got to visit the new Anthropologie & Co at the Stanford shopping center yesterday and It. Is. Gorgeous. The best part of course is the Terrain shop. The place was completely mobbed but I was able to get some quick photos with my phone outside of the store.

The outdoor tables at the Terrain cafe each had a single small log planter with succulents. These would be a fun DIY project and you don’t have to hollow out much of the wood since succulents don’t need much root space to thrive. If you remove the bark like they’ve done here, you can use paste wax to seal them which will make them last better, keep them from growing moss, and give a natural, not-shiny finish.

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DIY succulent dish gardens

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I spotted this beautiful succulent dish garden a few months back at Flora Grubb Gardens (they also offer classes if you want to make your own).

Unfortunately, we are still in the grip of this terrible drought. I didn’t plant anything new this fall, because a lot of the poor plants I planted the previous fall didn’t make it through the summer heat without enough winter rain to get them established. Suffice it to say most of my gardening this year will be succulents in containers.

1. The container:

Two of the best places I’ve seen for containers are Flora Grubb and The Botanist in Los Altos, Ca. Online, I’ve found gorgeous ones at: West Elm, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, and Anthropologie. Terrain has wonderful things as well but they are just too expensive for me.

You can drill a drainage hole in the bottom or put a layer of small rocks or pea gravel on the bottom.

2. The potting soil:

Honestly, I just use whatever potting soil is cheapest. If you live in an area where you get a lot of rain, you should go with a cactus or succulent mix or save money and make your own with 3 parts potting soil, 2 parts sand and 1 part perlite, all of which you can get at your local nursery, Lowes, Home Depot, OSH, etc…

3. The plants:

You can see this container uses the Thriller, Filler, and Spiller method. I’m guessing the Thriller is Echeveria ‘Perle Von Nurnberg.’ Mix in some clusters of not more than four kinds of smaller echeveria. Make sure to vary color and texture: green, purple, silver, spiky leaves, fuzzy leaves, rounded leaves. Tuck some small sedums in two or three places around the edges where they can spill over.

Pack the dish or container completely full so that you don’t see any dirt. Succulents slow growers and ridiculously easy to repot when they multiply or outgrow their space. With these plants what you see is mostly what you get, so I like to move them around and arrange them in my nursery cart until I’m happy with my composition.

4. Care:

Succulents grow beautifully in full sun, part sun, and bright shade. Water once a week, less in cooler weather. You can feed them if you want, but you don’t need to. When they multiply you can snap off the babies and repot them. If the stems get too long, pull them up, snap them off close to the rosette, and stick them right back in the dirt.

Gardening tips from Flora Grubb Gardens

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I finally visited the world’s coolest plant nursery, Flora Grubb Gardens. There is so much inspiration here for creating stunning gardens and outdoor living spaces with low maintenance, water wise plants, and every kind of succulent under the sun (and lots of gorgeous stuff for indoor plants too). They also offer design services and classes, and the staff is unbelievably friendly, helpful, and knowledgable. Here’s what I learned from this visit:

  • Go for low maintenance plants that thrive in your soil, water, and light situation. Be realistic about how much time you have for watering and other gardening work.
  • Get your color and drama with foliage instead of flowers.
  • Your garden will feel bigger and be more functional if you divide it into spaces: living areas, passageways
  • Containers provide color and (flexible) structure. Use containers in a variety of sizes but in similar colors and materials.
  • Invest in large scale containers the way you would in hardscaping or furniture.
  • Use multiples: repeat plants, plant types, containers, and objects for a more cohesive look.
  • Plant and accessorize your vertical spaces.
  • Shop your local nurseries. While I do use the big box stores, there’s no substitute for a local nursery and the deep knowledge the staff has of the plants.

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A low maintenance silver, purple, and black garden

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At Sunset’s Menlo Park gardens: a low maintenance, low water garden with year-round color interest.

Here, they’ve used bronze Phormium, Variegated Pittosporum, Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’, Lorapetalum ‘Purple Diamond’, and silver Thyme. These plants won’t need much more than the occasional light pruning.

The Aeoniums are a nice touch here – their forms are stunning, they add color and height, don’t take up any square footage, and soften the transition between the purple and silver. The cement, steel and celadon ceramic containers continue the color theme and can be moved around as needed.

Succulents and organic modern ceramics

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. Around here, summer is not gardening season, it’s survival season! Especially this summer with the terrible drought we are having. With fall in sight I’m starting to think about my garden again but I’m still more than a month away from wanting to plant anything in the ground. So for now I’ll get my gardening fix another way.

Spotted at Sunset Magazine’s Celebration Weekend, these earthy organic containers are perfect for late summer and will take you right into fall and winter. You can mix just about any combination of pots, vases, and objects you can find. If you are mixing in flowers, just restrict the palette. Deep burgundies and blacks look so cool in this setting.

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More succulents in handmade ceramics are here.

The most dramatic container plant in existence

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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.