These beauties are used to display plants and containers for sale in the shop at Filoli. They’d be a great way to add height and lushness to a small patio or to screen an ugly fence. I’d fill them with succulents in stone or faded terra cotta pots.
Emily Joubert in Woodside sells these beautiful pieces, but they also make a fun DIY and anyone would love them as a gift. Here’s how to plant succulents in a driftwood or old log planter:
- You can use driftwood, or any piece of wood that has some age and weathering to it. Soft woods will make a faster, easier project.
- Start with a crack or depression that is somewhat towards the middle of the wood. Use a gouge tool to dig it out and make more space for your plants. You don’t have to dig out very much: succulents don’t need a lot of root space.
- If the crack goes all the way through the wood, tuck in a piece of screen and secure it with a couple of small nails, tacks, or staples.
- Fill with dirt. I have been gardening with succulents forever and I’ve rarely used a cactus potting mix. I just use whatever potting soil I have on hand, which is usually the cheapest one, and my succulents have always been fine.
- Arrange your succulents. Go for either uniformity or as dramatic a mix of colors and shapes as you can find. If you’re doing a mix, do a spike, a rosette, a silver, a green, and a purple or black. Put in your bigger forms and then tuck the little ones around the edges.
- You don’t need to leave them room to grow. Pack them in there like you are arranging flowers. If they make babies, pop them out and repot when things get crowded. If they get leggy, snap off the stems and stick the rosettes back in the dirt. That’s it. They don’t have strong roots so they are as easy to rearrange as cut flowers.
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.
More silver and concrete. This one is Echeveria Zonnestraal.
Kalanchoe Silver Spoon. This timeworn yellow is perfection.
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.
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.
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.
Because what you put a plant IN is as important as what plant you choose. I love a mix of traditional, country, and what you could call vintage modern and this group, with their their colors and their handmade (or handmade looking) forms, works equally well with any or all styles.