Plants & Varieties

Circular Succulent Garden

When I first saw fitness coach Amy Van Liew’s circular garden and spherical fountain, I envisioned how it might look replanted with colorful succulents. A great fountain and garden bed deserve to be seen, especially when in the middle of a magnificent home’s entryway. In the spring, when I took this photo of Amy, the flowers in the…

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The Succulents of Birdsong

Echeveria and Crassula falcata

Frank and Susan Oddo of San Diego are hand’s-on gardeners who continually are on the lookout for unusual plants that’ll thrive in a low-water landscape. Not surprisingly, they’ve incorporated many succulents on their multi-acre property. With its layers of foliage and tall trees, the garden serves as a wild bird sanctuary that attracts dozens of species, including visitors that drop in (literally) during seasonal migrations. Below are outtakes from the article I wrote about…

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I Come Out as a Cactus Lover

When profiled by Garden Design magazine, I took the opportunity to come out as a cactus lover. Well, I had to. They asked about trends in the world of succulents. I believe my progression is fairly typical. Most of us start out loving succulents that look like fleshy roses—echeverias, graptoverias and the like. As people gain appreciation for the…

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New Succulents

New succulents for 2016

New Succulent Plant Introductions Let’s say you’re in the nursery business and can crossbreed popular succulents so their offspring combine their parents’ most desirable traits. What would you aim for? That’s what I found out on a recent visit to Altman Plants, the largest grower of succulents in the US. I was there to photograph Altman’s spring succulent introductions—new beauties…

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DIY Succulent Driftwood Designs

DIY Succulent Driftwood Designs When you make succulent driftwood designs, the plants resemble undersea flora, and the wood hints at something you’d see washed up on the beach. The two combine to make a special, almost fantasy-like composition that works well as a patio centerpiece or special gift for a friend. These photos are from…

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Rick’s Aloe and Butterfly Garden

The current population of monarch butterflies is a mere 4% of what it formerly was. These once ubiquitous butterflies are on the brink of extinction. Anyone with even a small garden, in any part of the US, can help reverse this sad trend. I knew that Rick Bjorklund’s garden in San Diego would delight me with its aloes,…

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Succulent Wreath Tips and Ideas

Do you like the succulent wreath that my friend Denise made during a wreath party at my home? To create a similar one, you’ll need about 100 cuttings, a wire wreath form, 24-gauge florist’s wire, a chopstick, and a bag of sphagnum moss. The form, moss and wire are available at any craft store. Cuttings will root right…

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No-Water Succulents for Southern California Gardens

  Certain readily available succulents not only get by on rainfall alone, they’ll grow in nutrient-poor soil and can handle searing sun and frost. No-water succulents for Southern California gardens that are native to the Southwest and Mexico include dasylirions, agaves, cacti and yuccas. They thrive from south of the border to the Bay Area and…

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Lophocereus schottii (Totem Pole Cactus)

Recently at his nursery in Fallbrook, CA, succulent expert Don Newcomer showed me a rare columnar, spineless cactus from Mexico: Lophocereus schottii (totem pole cactus). It can be chubby and lumpy, tall and skinny, or columnar and spiral-forming. Lophocereus (Pachycereus) schottii has spines. The monstrose form has club-shaped trunks with spineless protuberances. There are three monstrose varieties: fat (obesa),…

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