- Author: Karen Norton
Recently I escaped the summer heat and ventured to the Succulent Extravaganza hosted by Succulent Garden’s owner Robin Stockwell. This working nursery is in rural Castroville and gardeners flocked there September 30 and October 1 to hear presentations by landscape architects, garden curators, authors and succulent growers. They also enjoyed great hospitality, free treats, habitat walks, and extensive shopping through three green houses.
I planned my trip to hear Debra Lee Baldwin, author of Designing Container Gardens with Succulents. She gave tips for eye-catching containers and showed numerous slides that accentuated her main design principle of repetition. She stressed repeating shapes or colors found in the containers with color and shapes of the succulents. She also said that a new trend is to put semi-precious stones into containers with the succulents. She recommended mounding the soil in the center when planting a pot to create height and depth.
Debra’s “not so secret” succulent planting mix contains potting soil and pumice (crushed volcanic rock). She said that pumice is easily attained at local livestock supply stores under the brand name, Dry Stalls. She adds this to her mix to promote drainage.
Another attraction for me at the nursery was the outside gazebo that was wall papered with panels of hanging succulents. The succulents were planted in plastic hanging forms that allowed the creators to use plant shapes and colors to develop designs. On another building, I looked up to find a beautiful succulent mural or what Robin calls a “living wall”.
On a much smaller scale, I made my own vertical garden by using wooden wine box for the container. It is easy to remove the wooden lid, cut a piece of ½ inch fencing the same size and slide it in. Next I filled the box with a cactus mix blend of soil (before I heard Debra speak) and poked succulent cuttings in the squares. Then you keep the box in a shady spot, lying flat until the succulent grow roots and they don’t come out when you tug on them. After about six weeks, I hung up my box to enjoy.
Now I have a whole new appreciation for succulent design, versatility, and variety of plants. With the new plants I picked out during the succulent event, I am looking for containers and areas in the garden to create eye-catching designs.