File under more uses for succulents: underplanting and filling in.
Give your succulents a temporary job filling in blank spots between or under plants. Succulents can take some shade, especially if it’s only for a short time. And while they might not pair well with your ferns, they can take some moisture. I have succulents filling in right now in bright shade and heavy clay soil. Heavy WET clay soil, now that we finally, thankfully, have rain! Since they transplant so easily, you can move them around wherever they’re needed. Or you might decide to just leave them where they are since they look great with everything.
Photographed at Sunset Magazine’s celebration weekend display gardens.
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.
Try planting succulents in huge swaths of a single color. There are so many varieties that you can choose almost any color combination you want. Your garden will look like a jewel box.
This is Echeveria Agavoides ‘Purple Pearl’ and Agave attenuata ‘Nova’ (Blue Fox Tail Agave). When these echeveria fill in, the effect is going to be stunning.
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.
Here is a succulent border that would look equally good in a modern or traditional setting. For comparison, here is a succulent border in a very modern garden.
GET THIS GARDEN
- Use a wider variety of plants.
- Mix loose and compact forms.
- Arrange your big, high impact plants (see the half finished bed below in the last picture) and fill in with small, low growing plants.
- Plant slightly closer together for a lush effect.
- Allow plants to sprawl and spill over each other and the edges of the beds for an informal effect.
- Don’t worry about making a mistake. Succulents have very shallow root systems, so they are extremely easy to rearrange. (Except agaves. They don’t mind being moved at all, but they are big and heavy. And spiky!)
photos taken at the Elizabeth Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, CA