Here is the inspiration for the project: the entry garden of our a house our friends rented in Sri Lanka during their trip around the world. The bowl of flowers in water near the front entry attracts positive energy and luck.
A bowl of flowers in water near my front entry will only attract raccoons and my thirsty labrador retriever, so I tried for a similar effect with succulents. I selected a couple of varieties of Dudleya with rosettes similar to the white flowers with their pointed petals and planted them in concrete bowls from Vietnam which I bought at Filoli’s annual plant sale. Here are similar planters at Terrain.
Dudleyas are the easiest succulents, you just plant them. To start a new plant, just snap a rosette off at the stem and stick it in the dirt. They’ll even root and form a new rosette from a single leaf. They are much more fragile than Echevaria so handle them carefully.
Here is the finished result on my porch.
I love this. It’s so stunning and it has to be the easiest care garden ever. The plantings could not be simpler, and then you have a gorgeous weathered stone planter filled with succulents set right into the border. Garden minimalism that would work beautifully in a traditional or modern garden.
Filoli is kind of known for those formal English style gardens, but there are plenty of ideas for us lazy gardeners, too. Everything in this border is low maintenance and drought tolerant. No deadheading, pruning, or cutting things back. And the foliage mix here is so good that even after most things are done blooming, the garden is still totally stunning.
Repetition of purple-black shrubs as a transition between the trees and the low growing perennials at the front of the border.
Black and silver. Berggarten Sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’) and purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria). In a smaller space you could use Loropetalum chinense ‘Purple Diamond’
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides. This was growing all over the place. It just flows in around everything and gives you a low dense mass of green with the most intense blue flowers.
More useful stuff:
- Salvia officinalis – Sage (herbaceousportfolio.wordpress.com)
- Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme…. (forestgardenblog.wordpress.com)
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.
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.
Go for broke with one really stunning container or object.
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.
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.