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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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.

Style your garden like you style your home

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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.

  1. Group similar objects for more impact. In this case, Asian inspired statues, natural stones, and potted orchids on the table.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).

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DIY easy, portable plant screen

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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.

Succulent garden ideas: succulents in a hanging planter

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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.

Succulents in a vintage birdbath

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I love this idea: succulents in a vintage birdbath – spotted outside a shop in Montecito.

That’s an agave attenuata in the middle, which will get quite big. The rest of the birdbath is filled with dudleya, jade, echeveria, kalanchoe, and sedum. The green plants in the middle are ringed by purple and blue succulents, with a few small green sedums tucked in around the very edges. Your dudleyas (the silver/blue/purple ones) will need to grow a bit before the rosettes get long and full like these. When they get too leggy, just pull them out, break off the long stems, and replant the rosettes.

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