I've had a lot of stress in my life lately. A dog with health problems, some intense job interviews, and the attendant prospect of moving somewhere that's really hard to grow succulents.
So, what do we do when we get stressed out, succ-ers? We garden. (At least, my mom and I do, so maybe it's genetic.) And the detail-oriented-ness of my gardening is inversely correlated with the amount of relaxation in my life. Which is why I used a whole bunch of teeny, tiny baby succulents and small cuttings to create this last week, in a vertical gardening frame:
...Which was really fun. Here's a close-up:
Yes, there's a color/type pattern. No, I don't know if all these cuttings will survive.What is the MOST DETAIL-ORIENTED planting you've ever done? Send me a picture; I'll put it on this blog.
While I was in the greenhouse this afternoon, I heard some rocks falling on the deck. I went outside to see what the commotion was, and found this scene awaiting me:
Why do you keep staring at me?
I was laughing too hard to be annoyed. My girlfriend claims she taught the dog to do this so that I would stop putting plants on the deck furniture. Sneaky, but all too plausible.
More damage was done to the flat than this picture suggests. I had to remove all the plants and give them new homes. Ah, well.
Have you ever heard of the trend known as "guerilla gardening?" Basically it means that you put plants in places over which you don't technically have "jurisdiction"--that you don't, er, "own," and which you have no legal business messing with.
But you mess with it anyway. Because you're a succ-er. And succ-ers are the badasses of the gardening world.
I tried my hand at guerilla gardening for the first time the other day. There are some unattractive concrete planters near where I work, filled with oft-neglected geraniums. So what did I do about it? I smuggled a wee, hardy little echeveria with me and as I walked by the concrete planter--BAM!--I quickly planted it!
Okay, so it's dwarfed within the planter, but you get the idea. I'm totally going to do this some more, because it is AWESOME.
Here's your challenge: do a piece of guerilla gardening yourself, then send me a picture. I'll post them (anonymously, if you wish) on this blog.
My wish list is getting more exotic, folks! Here are the latest additions. It's dominated by crassula (crassulas?) these days. Hm, I might need a trip to South Africa. Click on a photo to go to the website it's from. (I try to use only fair use photos... an ongoing challenge.)
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora "watermelon" variegate
Agave "snow glow" (blue glow variegate)
I've done so-so on finding the plants that have been on my wish list in the past. Recent acquisitions include two crassula deceptors (I'm successfully rooting some cuttings from those, too!) and several haworthia truncatas (and variations thereof). But others have been either impossible to procure or prohibitively expensive, particularly agave excelsior and agave "Joe Hoak." I found one of the latter at East Bay Nursery in Oakland and it was over $60! Had a bunch of babies, though. Maybe I could have sold them off to pay for the mama...
Oh well. Not having much excess cash at my disposal certainly heightens the thrill of the hunt!
What's on YOUR wish list?
I was watering my largest succulent planter on Friday and it occurred to me that I've never shown it to you guys, have I?
Driving home from a friend's house once, I happened by a nursery that was closing(!). The owner was retiring, and they were getting rid of a bunch of random bits and pieces around the nursery, including this five-or-six-foot-long hollowed out bamboo planter. All that was in it at the time was a bunch of geraniums on their last legs. I took it home for $10, removed the geraniums, and planted a huge bunch of succs in it. My girlfriend then hung it from a picnic table where we keep lots of pots of succulents. Here it is from one side:
And here it is from the other side:
If you want to do something like this, a few pieces of advice. One, use larger plants to shade smaller or more finicky plants that will need time to get used to the new placement. Two, assuming you're mixing lots of different kinds of plants, like I am here, they probably won't all survive. Most will, but there are bound to be a few casualties. Third, give your plants time to adjust. I planted this two or three months ago, and even though it took a little while for some of the plants to take hold, I think it looks better than ever now!
On to the next project.
For quite some time, I've had a shadow box that I picked up somewhere for $5 or so. It's not particularly sturdy, and I wasn't really sure what to do with it. Yesterday, I decided to paint it with some exterior paint that's been lying around the garage. I let it dry, drilled some holes, and tilted it to about a 90º angle against a step. Then I planted it with succulents. Keeping it at 90º while I planted meant that I'd be able to display it right away when I finished, which is what I'm doing here:
Cool, huh? I had fun coordinating the colors. My girlfriend pointed out that the coloring is sure to change with the sun, and while this is true enough, I can always switch these out for new plants if I want to keep being militant about the rows of color.
And finally, just for fun, here's a picture of the table outside of our house. Not a great shot of the plantings on the table, sure, but a nice photo of the faithful Succulent Patrol Canine, looking typically wistful.
After the fun I had with the first infographic I made
, I decided to try one that went into more detail about different types of succulent addiction. (Also, I hope it's obvious that this is entirely tongue-in-cheek--I have great respect for people who struggle with real addictions, and I certainly do not intend to make light of addiction.)
I hope you enjoy this wee infographic. If so, please share it with other succ-ers! You can click on each part for a larger view:
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The other day, a friend asked me why I like succulents so much more than other plants. First, a clarification: I like
lots and lots of other plants. But I don't like growing
them nearly as much as I like growing succulents. Here are my top five reasons, in no particular order:
- Otherworldliness. Plants like echeveria etna, crassula moonglow, and haworthia maughanii look like they've been beamed down from Neptune. Their unapologetic weirdness charms me.
- Nearly infinite propagat-ability. The idea that I can reproduce an entire plant from a single leaf still blows my mind. It's also amazingly cost-effective for those of us who are, say, full-time graduate students writing dissertations, working on the side, and making student loan payments. Just hypothetically.
- Sheer variety of shapes and colors. If you're reading this page, I doubt I have to convince you of this one!
- Amnesty for my neglect. I'm a busy gal, and sometimes I can't get to my plants for two days... or three... or four. When I had a vegetable garden, this was problematic (note that I'm using the past tense). With the exceptions of seedlings and very young plants, succulents actually seem to prefer it when I neglect them for a little while.
- Collective fanaticism surrounds them. Maybe this is true of lots of things, but I adore the photos, writings, and community that surrounds succulents. Succ-ers are a lot of fun, and getting to know other succulent gardeners and attending events like the Succulent Celebration has been awesome. There is SO much to learn, and I never seem to tire of it.
How about you, fellow, succ-ers? What do you like best about succulents?
First of all, I wanted to thank all the new readers who are following Gardening Succs! I really appreciate it. This blog has gone from zilch, zip, nada to about 200 visitors each day (with a high of 800!), and the Gardening Succs Facebook page
has over 1000 "likes." Thank you!Next, a confession: I suffer from propag-addiction, one of the most common succulent ailments around (more info on specific ailments soon--I feel another infographic coming on...). Sooo, following the growers at Lone Pine, I decided to start using flats for the plants I both (1) already have several of and
(2) would like to grow more of. But since I don't have enough of any one type to fill a flat, I used two different kinds to fill a flat:
Another flat: sempervivum tectorum calcareum on the left, echeveria (glauca? secunda? imbricata?) on the right.
In the next flat I made, I used four different kinds. (So far, I've only made these two flats.)
Last week, it occurred to me to use different colored rocks to separate types of succs within a flat.
Here's a closer photo of the truncatas (and a couple truncata x maughanii hybrids).
What am I going to do with the new plants? Sell them? Give them away? Propagate more plants and see if I can get on "Hoarders?" I have no idea. Most likely, I'll try to trade them with other succulent aficionados for plants I don't have yet.
For many of my plants, though, I only have one or two specimens. Or three. Or four. (Whatever--don't judge me.) Here's a shot of the inside of part of my greenhouse.
Several flats of 2-inch pots, roughly arranged by type
And lastly, just for fun, two random pictures I took in my backyard the other day.
The other day I was watering succs on my deck, moved a pot, and found this baby echeveria shaviana rarin' to go!
I adore my agave blue glow a lot! I've had it for about a year and wonder if I should repot it soon.
Thanks again for being awesome, and for sticking around to watch this blog grow. I promise you, it'll only get better!
I several agaves, three of which are the gorgeous hybrid known as "blue flame." Two of my three blue flames, though, have recently become plagued with a few little brown spots on their lower leaves.
Any idea what's going on with this? There's nothing on the back of the leaves--no bugs or anything. And so far it's just the lower leaves. It's also only my younger blue flames (maybe 8-10" across) that are affected. My big one seems to be doing fine...